Anchorage Spenard Lake Memories
Do you know the first name of the lake that would become Spenard Lake? Did you know that Spenard Lake was once the site of a thriving resort?
Spenard Lake, 1959
In July 1916, Spenard began as a lumber camp.
To haul lumber to Anchorage, Joe Spenard needed a road.
So, he persuaded a local club to help him cut down trees and create a road of sorts. The road went from what would become Spenard Lake to an area close to Ship Creek, the site of tent city.
The U.S. Forest Service did not authorize the cutting down of the trees.
But the road became known as Spenard Road.
Around 1915, a homesteader named Thomas Jetter had set up housekeeping on what became Jetter Lake.
But the area had not been opened up to homesteading, so Jetter had to leave.
Shortly after his departure, homesteading was allowed, and Joe Spenard jumped at the chance. He realized that the people of Anchorage required the lumber that was around the lake. A lucrative business indeed.
But Joe Spenard saw another opportunity as well.
He would develop the lake and the land around the lake – and create a full-scale resort.
There was a Bathing Beach, Bath Houses and a Roadhouse and Dance Pavilion.
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And to transport the recreation starved people of Anchorage to his resort, he used his City Express Vehicles.
Joe hit the jackpot.
His resort was a big success.
Spenard Road was being used to haul his lumber to Anchorage, and it was being used to taxi people to his Lake Spenard Resort.
Careless Hunters May Have Been to Blame
On May 24, 1917, a fire destroyed the Dance Pavilion, Picnic Tables and Joe’s Houses.
The resort was declared a total loss.
But Joe Spenard did not have any fire insurance.
He was never able to rebuild, and health problems prompted him to leave Alaska.
Take a look at these historic pictures of Lake Spenard and enjoy.
U.S. President Warren G. Harding
Did you know that the first U.S. President to visit Anchorage, was Warren G. Harding?
That was back in 1923, and he also visited Spenard Lake.
The Lake Today
Today, Spenard Lake is connected to Lake Hood by a canal. Lake Hood has its own claim-to-fame as the world’s busiest small plane facility. Small planes can take off and land on the lake all year long, using skies in the winter and pontoons in the summer.
Take a look at this picture of Lake Spenard, taken between 1950 and 1969 and remember when.
Your Spenard Lake Memories
Our family visited Spenard Lake in the summer months and our children happily splashed in the water while Mary and I sat on a blanket on the beach.
And we had no idea that the history of Spenard Lake was so interesting.
What are your memories of spending time at Spenard Lake?
It’s getting warmer in Anchorage and that means no more heavy winter boots, winter coats or shoveling snow off your driveway.
It’s time for warmer weather fun, (I can hear the shouts of joy).
Break out the camping gear, fishing tackle and yes, your swimming gear.
Did you enjoy our look at Spenard Lake?
We’d love to see your comments, suggestions, or maybe you just want to say, “go jump in the lake.”
You can either reply to this email or you can Contact Us right now.
Until Next Time
Mike & Mary