Dundee – All About Polk County
In 1910, a man named Menzie from Dundee, Scotland, declared the tiny settlement here should be called Dundee after his former home. He also named one of Dundee’s many lakes, Lake Menzie. Soon after, land speculators and developers realized the many attributes. In 1911, with the arrival of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad’s new Haines City to Sebring branch and the construction of the Dundee railroad station, speculators had a means to bring possible settlers to get a firsthand view of this beautiful section of Florida.
One of the first to recognize the area’s potential was William W. Shepard of Minneapolis who, along with his associates, purchased about 14,000 acres of land along the Scenic Ridge from Lake Hamilton to Mountain Lake including much of present day Dundee. His company, The Highlands Development Co., had two goals: to develop citrus groves and sell house lots. The availability of reliable transportation enabled them to achieve their goal of selling house lots. The Highlands Development Co. ran special trains to Dundee bringing hundreds of potential settlers, and those who purchased land were even refunded their rail fares!
Many began flocking to the area and to accommodate the influx of people, a large tent was put up near the station and was quickly replaced by the Highlands Hotel, a two-story structure with broad porches overlooking Dell Lake and the 900-acre citrus nursery and groves of the Glen St. Mary Nursery Company. In the years that followed, citrus trees were to crown the hills of the town; but before citrus became the major industry, the entire area had many stands of tall Southern pine. The earliest venture in what was to become Dundee exploited its resource of Southern pines. The Mixon Sawmill, which furnished some of the timber for the new train depot, and Rayburn’s Turpentine Distillery flourished briefly, but the pines were soon gone and so were they. It was then that citrus took over. The W. C. Lee Packing House, on the shore of Crystal Lake, opened to process fruit. In 1924, Dundee Citrus Growers Association purchased the packing house and, in 1929, a new packing house was constructed next to the railroad station.
Today, Dundee is still known for its prosperous citrus industry. Dundee which was incorporated in 1924 is located on the Highway 27 corridor in Polk County, Florida. Central Florida, as we all know, is known to have the best mixture of sunshine, soil and weather to grow the absolute best citrus in the world. Davidson of Dundee realized this in the early 1900’s when T.W. Davidson began growing his citrus. Today, Davidson of Dundee is still producing the finest hand selected Florida oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and citrus candy in their Dundee factory.