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Around 1880 a widely traveled Englishman, John Bingham, obtained 160 acres of land on a high knoll between Eagle Lake, Spirit Lake, and Crystal Lake.
He named the lake upon which he built his two room log cabin “Eagle Lake” because of an Eagle living in a nearby tall pine. He also named his new home “The Eagles Nest”. On March 16, 1882, Bingham wrote in his diary,” I can concieve of no natural scenery more beautiful than that environing Eagle Lake.” John Bingham was 53 when he came to this area and he passed away at 90 in 1917.
Josephine Burr, in her book, History of Winter Haven, (which is now in our library) wrote that Mr. Bingham should have been a poet and write and gives the following from him as a sample:
” I have planted a garden,
So I know what faith is.
I have seen birch trees swinging in a breeze,
So I know what grace is.
I have listened to a bird chording,
So I know what music is.
I have read a book by a wood fire,
So I know what contentment is.
I have seen a miracle of a sunset,
So I know what grandeur is.
And because I have seen all these things,
I know what wealth is!”
In 1882, at the same time John Bingham was settling on the Northwest shore of the lake, Louisa McLeod ( a widow from Alabama) purchased 115 acres of land for $1.25 an acre. This land was sold and resold serveral times, and in 1887 the Town of Eagle Lake was laid out on this property and became the center of town.
From such humble beginnings Eagle Lake began to grow. In a conversation I had years ago with Mr. Bingham’s Granddaughters, Blanche Gay and Helen, I was told about their walking to school in Eagle Lake all the way from Crystal Lake Road. There was a school house at what is now our boat landing on Eagle Lake. From reading various historical accounts there was a turpentine mill, a brickyard, two citrus packing houses ( both destroyed by fire in the 40’s). One record states that 125,000 crates of tomatoes were shipped from Eagle Lake in the year 1893-1894. Also, the first ever grapefruit sectionalizing plant was in Eagle Lake.
Eagle Lake has kept its small “hometown” atmoshere through the years. In the early 1980’s it adopted the slogan “Growing With People In Mind” and that ideology prevails today. We have ranked in the top ten safest cities in the State of Florida.
We have five churches in town, the Women’s Civic League organized in 1916, the Ruritan Club ( a Community Service Club), Haven Lakes Jaycees, Lake Region High School, Eagle Lake Elementary and Pinewood Elementary, a skate board park, an active Boy Scout Program and a Fellowship Dining Program for Seniors. There are many opportunities to become involved with these groups in Eagle Lake.
This history of Eagle Lake is credited to the late Mickey Petty.
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