The 20-square-mile expanse of picturesque lakes and Douglas fir groves in which Lakewood is nestled was first known as "The Prairie," a vital crossroads between the Columbia River Gorge and Vancouver, British Columbia, for British fur traders and Native Americans. Fort Steilacoom became a stronghold of American interests before, during, and after the Indian War of 1855-1856 and was a crucible for men who would figure prominently in the Civil War. The prairie and the Lakes District later grew into a playground for Tacoma's wealthy. On one end of Lakewood, racers such as Barney Oldfield and Eddie Rickenbacker entertained tens of thousands; while on the other end, health care professionals at Western State Hospital sought answers to mental illness. Lakewood still boasts the first golf club in the West--the Tacoma Country and Golf Club--and the internationally known Lakewold Gardens.