In May of 1975, the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad gave the City of Lake Wales the 1916 Seaboard Airline Freight Depot, and it was moved to the city equipment yard on Sessoms Avenue where it was used as a storage building. In 1987, the Historic Lake Wales Society was formed to serve as a private support group for the Depot Museum. The Historic Society included a small group of railroad enthusiasts who had a vision of building a railroad. About that time, the Ridge Model Railroad Club build a small layout portraying Lake Wales and displayed it in the Depot Museum, sparking even more interest.
In August 1988, Historic Society president Mimi Hardman heard about an HO scale layout that was for sale at Marco Island. The layout included over 900 feet of track, 100 buildings, ski lifts and working mines, and measured 9 feet by 30 feet. After beginning negotiations to purchase the layout, steps were taken to found a model railroad club.
On May 1, 1989, a constitution and by-laws were signed to officially form the Lake Wales Model Railroad Club. Nine days later, the purchased layout arrived at the Depot Museum and its reconstruction became the primary focus of the Railroad Club.