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Images of America: Lake Wales

Lake Wales, "Crown Jewel of the Scenic Highlands," is nestled among rolling hills and sparkling lakes in the geographic center of Florida. Before the 1900s, this area of the Lake Wales Ridge was considered spectacularly beautiful but uninhabitable because the virgin forests did not have road or railroad access. Only Native Americans and a few white hunters had camped there.

G. V. Tillman explored the untamed area in 1902 and fell in love with the beauty. He knew that the land was ideal for citrus, the old-growth pines could provide profits from turpentine, and the natural beauty would attract quality settlers to build a quality town. He shared his vision with three other businessmen, and together they formed the Lake Wales Land Company in 1911. Their timing was perfect. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad reached Lake Wales that year and brought on the boom time.

Like Tillman, Jan Privett fell in love with Lake Wales and has produced video documentaries about the town's history.  The author, as manager of Lake Wales Main Street, Inc., worked with the Historic Lakes Wales Society to share the history of a unique small town—one with three historic districts and Bok Tower Gardens, a national historic landmark—in Images of America: Lake Wales.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country.  Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today.  

Author: Jan Privett / Format: paperback / Length: 128 pages

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