In 1910, a man named August Lauth, who had come from Paris with the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, developed trout hatcheries here. He diverted the spring creek into breeding ponds, using the water wheel previously developed for power to operate a saw mill, raised rainbow trout, packed them in ice, and sent them by wagon and train to St. Louis to be served in fancy hotels and restaurants.

In 1926, a group of St. Louis families bought land at the trout ponds, used the water wheel for electricity, built a clubhouse, eight log cabins and a swimming pool. Some of those men were YMCA Board Members, and in 1946, the property was all sold to the YMCA. It became a small conference center for 75 people and was named Trout Lodge.

In 1947, Mr. Joseph Sunnen (Sunnen Products and Emko Company) offered to buy the land and build a small 35-acre lake. Mr. Sunnen personally supervised the construction of a dam to impound the Fourche Renault Creek, which eventually formed our 360-acre lake, which was completed in 1948. With his initial gift of $244,000, 593 additional acres were added to the property. Camp Lakewood opened for boys in the summer of 1949.

In the ensuing years, acreage and buildings were added, and the property grew to 5,200 acres. Trout Lodge moved to the new Sunnen Center in 1986, and Camp Lakewood moved to a more expanded area at the other end of the lake and became both a boys and girls camp facility.


The YMCA property is continually evolving, which will include future renovations to both the property and the buildings. YMCA Trout Lodge & Camp Lakewood is a not-for-profit organization and a branch of the Gateway Region YMCA, and as such, accepts charitable donations for the betterment of the facility and its guests.

For more information on how your gift can make an impact to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy this property, please contact us at 888-FUN-YMCA and ask for the Philanthropy Director.