100 Years Ago: The Highlander of January 2, 1924


Last updated 1/3/2024 at 11:02am

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 new year of 1924 started out with big news in the community of Lake Wales as voters apparently chose to fund a new county hospital, a b ig achievement for the largely-rural county.

Roads were being paved and widened to connect the network of small towns that were sprinkled across the more than 2,000 square miles of Polk, while railroad lines were also being extended to allow the quick passage of freight and passengers to and from northern markets.

Citrus was the big industry driving most of the new growth around Lake Wales, and wealthy northerners were flocking to the new communities of Mountain Lake and Highland Park to build winter homes.

Courtesy Lake Wales Library archives

The first Lake Wales community band was in its infancy in January of 1924, offering a concert on the grounds of the Crystal Lodge, a small community building on the shores of Crystal Lake on the site of the present library. The Crystal Lodge now stands several blocks south as part of the Lake Wales History Museum complex.


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