The History of Lutz  -  Page 11

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Hit The Road, Jack

In the 1930's, Vernon Road was paved and renamed Lutz Lake Fern Road.  The road was dedicated at a 4th of July celebration.  Local residents Pauline Gardner, Carl and Calvin Newberger, all rode on a platform over the radiator (decorated in red, white and blue ribbons) of Mr. Fairbanks' Model T flatbed truck.  Pauline cut the ribbon to officially open the road, while Carl and Calvin waved American flags.


In 1935 State Road 5 was so well-traveled that the transportation department decided to built a wider road, paved with concrete.  The old asphalt bricks were torn out and stacked by the roadside; a huge pile was left in the Grossenbacher's grove.  Lutz residents were told to help themselves and do what they wished with the bricks.  Many used them for a variety of purposes, including making brick walkways on their property.  The new concrete road went from Tampa to about 1,000 feet north of the county line and a gravel road continued from that point up to Brooksville.

Lutz made sacrifices, like all towns across the country during the war years of 1941 - 45.  Gas was rationed and many were without transportation until a Tampa transit bus came to Lutz.  Many soldiers ran night maneuvers in the Lutz area, and there was even a radar camp off Lutz Lake Fern Road and an airplane spotting tower built on the third curve of Newberger Road.


In November of 1943 about 20 citizens met n the school auditorium to form the Lutz Civic Association.  In addition to sponsoring Fourth of July celebrations, the group initiated a number of civic improvements, including the formation of a volunteer fire department in the early 1950's.

Around WW2 or shortly thereafter, 18 inches (some say 2 feet) were added to each side of the highway from the Pasco County line south into Sulphur Springs.  It was still only 2 lanes, one northbound and one southbound.  The construction also eliminated two sharp right angle turns in the area where the First Baptist Church stands today.  The road between there and the railroad tracks was rerouted, straightening it,  and from that time on it was named US 41.  In downtown Lutz, all the businesses east of State Rd. 5 near the Lutz Depot had to be moved back 20 feet.  (A section of the original 1935 concrete highway still exists on the west side of US 41 between the railroad crossing and Crystal Lake Road.)  


At the same time of the widening in Hillsborough County, the concrete road was extended northward into Pasco County, through Drexel (present day Land O' Lakes) and on to Brooksville.  The road was straightened by removing the section known as "School Road" which now meanders off US 41 into Land O' Lakes.


For the concrete paving, the northbound lane was poured first, then the southbound lane.  Each was 11 feet wide.  When the concrete was poured in the swampy area north of the Lutz Depot, it sank.  Engineers had to drill holes in the concrete and pump sand underneath it to raise the road bed.



Land O' Lakes

In 1949 "Land O' Lakes" was created when the towns of Denham and Drexel voted to change their names and become one community.  The announcement was made at the meeting of the Denham-Drexel Civic Association and virtually everyone who attended the meeting claimed credit for coming up with the name.  Madeline Prince, long-time resident who moved to the area in 1945 says she stood up at a meeting and urged others to choose "Land O' Lakes" because it had about 2000 people and 2000 lakes.  Another account says that the name resulted from a 1949 name-the-place contest.  Alvah Hahs Kern, M.H. Sears, Helen Northrup and a man from Wisconsin entered, hoping to win the $25 prize.  Some old-timers say they all won, others say that the Wisconsin man won.  


There were actually two winners awarded the prize.  One was the Wisconsin man who simply borrowed the name from a popular brand of butter.  The other was Edna Blair who had just moved there from Indiana.

Even though the town name was changed to Land O' Lakes in 1949, the Pasco County Historical Preservation Committee decided to use 1950 as the town marker because that was when the Ehren post office closed and the Land O' Lakes post office was opened.  Land O' Lakes now encompasses the entire area north of Hwy 54 in central Pasco, which were the former towns of Denham, Drexel and Ehren.