Courtesy Lake Wales Public Library archives
100 years ago the new town of Lake Wales was the toast of the Ridge, and drawing a large number of new investors and residents who were pleased and enthusiastic about the promise of the area. The number of telephone subscribers in the Lake Wales area grew from 117 to nearly 350, with 77 new subscribers added in the months since the last "list" was published. The telephone service has proven popular in the rural setting. Meanwhile a debate continued over the proposed change of the name of Crooked Lake to Lake Caloosa as proposed by the Babson Park Board of Trade. Roger Babson, who founded the town, plans to build a bank there and is adamant that it can't have anything "crooked" associated with it. In order to serve the many new residents the local post office has changed the sole rural mail route to include the Mammoth Grove and Temple Town areas, along with Lake of the Hills, Lake Pierce, Gum Lake, Babson Park and the north shore of Crooked Lake, Lake Buffum, and the Bartow Road. The new route is a daily trek of 54 miles for local carrier Tom Pease.
The Lake Wales Highlander of 100 years ago reveals much about the history of our community.
Each week the Lake Wales News will publish a front-page image of the former Lake Wales Highlander from 100 years earlier, tracking the growth of the community a century ago, when Florida was in the midst of a great land price boom and rapid population growth.
The images are retrieved from the digital archives of the Lake Wales Public Library.
The Lake Wales Highlander eventually became The Daily Highlander, and under several different names was published six times a week on Sunday mornings and Monday through Friday afternoons until 1995.
The original Lake Wales News was a weekly broadsheet newspaper that also served the community for many decades, later changing to a tabloid format before closing six years ago.
Lake Wales was among only a handful of small communities that supported two local newspapers, a mark of the level of literacy and community interest here.