The High Ridge in Lake County is a timber wilderness with roaming cattle that was forever changed in 1916 when 40-year-old William John Howey arrived. At age 16, Howey left the family farm in Odin, Illinois, to sell insurance, automobiles, railroad lands, and pineapples. His greatest lifetime achievements were creating the world’s largest citrus empire and founding the “City Inevitable.” He pitched Tent City in 1918 where the Bougainvillea Hotel, then the Floridan Hotel, once stood to house thousands of investors arriving by automobile, train, and steamboat. When the town was incorporated in 1925, half a million trees were maturing, and profits were ripe for the picking. In 1927, the Howey mansion and wooden bridge completions were celebrated with an open-air opera. Howey’s accomplishments surpassed his dreams, with a few exceptions: the 15-story city hall and failed attempts at becoming governor. The Securities Exchange Act of 1933 ignited his downfall. When Howey died in 1938, the groundwork had been laid for those who followed.
Author Bio: Author Peggy Beucher Clark discovered Howey-in-the-Hills in 1964, when her father purchased the golf course. She has served on the town’s historic preservation board for 20 years, and her selected images recapture the essence of the era.
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