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Spanish Fork is a city in Utah County, Utah, United States. It is part of the Provo–Orem Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 39,443 as of a 2017 estimate.
The city is in the Utah Valley with the Wasatch Range to the east and Utah Lake to the northwest. I-15 passes the northwest side of the city. Payson is about six miles to the southwest, Springville lies about four miles to the northeast, and Salem almost shares a border.
Spanish Fork was settled in 1851 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as part of the Mormon Pioneers' settlement of Utah Territory. Its name derives from a visit to the area by two Franciscan friars from Spain, Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez in 1776, who followed the stream down Spanish Fork canyon with the objective of opening a new trail from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the Spanish missions in California, along a route later followed by fur trappers. They described the area inhabited by Native Americans as having "spreading meadows, where there is sufficient irrigable land for two good settlements. Over and above these finest of advantages, it has plenty of firewood and timber in the adjacent sierra which surrounds its many sheltered spots, waters, and pasturages, for raising cattle and sheep and horses."
In 1851, some settlers led by William Pace set up scattered farms in the Spanish Fork bottom lands and called the area the Upper Settlement. However, a larger group congregated at what became known as the Lower Settlement just over a mile northwest of the present center of Spanish Fork along the Spanish Fork River. In December 1851, Stephen Markham, who was severely wounded outside Carthage Jail in Carthage, Illinois while attempting to defend Joseph Smith and other church leaders from a mob in 1844, became the president of the first church congregation (branch) at the Lower Settlement.
In 1852, Latter-day Saints founded a settlement called Palmyra, Utah west of the historic center of Spanish Fork.
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