December 5, 1923 Highlander

Series: This Week in History | Story 20

Last updated 12/10/2023 at 9:44am

Courtesy Lake Wales Library Archives

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.

The big news from 100 years ago included the sale of the historic first box of fruit from the Orphan Grove for $1,000, which was enough to purchase some homes in the city at the time.

Other news stories told of an exploratory "oil well" being bored near Polk City. The area is now well-known to be the deepest region of the Floridan Aquifer, which is the source of the area's drinking water.

Also in the news was word of yet another expansion to the growing network of paved roads in the county, and the completion of a deep cut through the hills south of town to allow heavier trains to climb the grade to rach the Frostproof area.

Another story told of the upcoming vote to require cattle to be fenced to end the "free range" policy that had ruled Florida.

Courtesy Lake Wales Library Archives

A large ad in the Highlander told of the opening of Friedlander's Department Store, slated to take place December 8, 1923. The historic building that housed the store at the corner of First Street and Park Avenue is slated for restoration that will include the apartments on the third floor.


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