Around 1840, the British Hudson Bay Company set up a cattle ranch on the shore of a haunted lake that local tribes called Spa’nu-we. A hunting trail through the Cascade Mountains crossed at Spa’nu-we with another pathway running to Puget Sound from the sleeping volcano Tu’qobu (Tacoma). Both trails became roads and railways that drew settlers to Spa’nu-we’s rich prairie and abundant water. Thus began decades of conflict—often armed—with the evolving town of Spanaway caught in regional and national turmoil. Because of its strategic location, Spanaway homesteads were used as temporary military outposts during two wars. Hundreds of family farms were lost forever when they were condemned to form Camp Lewis. Spanaway’s resort “on the most beautiful lake in a land of lakes” has drawn controversial rallies, lawsuits, and political battles. Spanaway, still buffeted by political winds, continues today as a regional playground and transportation hub.
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