The Bright Future of an Amazing Past
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There's always something new happening at the Lake Wales Museum!

Our collection and interpretive materials serve as an educational resource for tens of thousands of area elementary, high school, and university students and teachers, as well as an educational and entertaining resource for area residents and visitors. ​​

  We invite you to pay a visit to our museum, and enjoy the wealth of information offered.

The Lake Wales Museum Association is committed to creating an outstanding public museum to share the captivating natural and human history of the Lake Wales Ridge and its environs.
​The ancient geology, the prehistoric megafauna, the highly-evolved and adapted species, the first human cultures, and the settlement and development of an urban lifestyle are reflected in the artifacts and documents conserved in our museum. 
Florida History Comes Alive at our Museum
The history of the Lake Wales Ridge is the story of North America's oldest undistrurbed land form. From submerged corals dense limestone formed, emerging to become the land mass of Florida. The rise and fall of the oceans over three milllion years repeatedly submerged most of the peninsula, reducing it to a chain of "Ancient Islands," the Lake Wales Ridge. Humans have lived here for perhaps 20,000 years, and their lives once revolved around the mega-fauna they found: giant sloths, mastodons, glyptodonts, ancient native camels, and prehistoric horses.  
The First Floridians
Early native cultures learned to use the resources of Florida in sustainable ways, and used our plethora of waterways as avenues of transportation. Our ancient canoe, recovered from a lake-bottom, bears the marks of the craftsman who shaped it.
Cow Hunters Followed the Seminoles to the Ridge
Chasing the valuable wild cattle descended from those escaped from early Spanish settlements, Cow-hunters were America's first real 'cowboys," wandering the ranges of the Kissimmee Valley just east of the Ridge. Their stories helped to draw in the first permanent settlers to what had long been Seminole land. The Lake Wales Land Company laid out the future town, and settlement began in earnest. The town was incorporated in 1917.
Railroads Opened up the Lake Wales Ridge
The 'Iron Way' was the preferred means of travel in America for nearly a century before the rails finally arrived on the Lake Wales Ridge, but when they did, a boom followed. Immigrants poured in from northern states and foreign countries, and within a few short years they built a bustling town.
From the first clap-board buildings the town blossomed into blocks of solid masonry structures in less than 15 years. Don't miss the opportunity to take a narrated walking tour of the well-preserved 1920's-era architecture of the "Great Florida Land Boom" using our free app on your smart phone or tablet. Ear-buds are also available in the museum gift shop.
Citrus Becomes 'King' of the Ridge and the Major Industry
From the first tentative plantings through the 'Mammoth Grove,' native scrub was quickly replaced by expansive groves of oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines, shipped rapidly by rail to northern markets. Fortunes often turned on the weather, as severe freezes sometimes destroyed both fruit and mature trees. Today, the industry's greatest threat comes not from cold, but from invasive pests and diseases.