After 19 years of wear and tear, a historical marker commemorating the Buffalo Soldiers’ 1898 encampment on Lake Wire has been replaced with a replica.

The new monument to the African American cavalry regiment stands in the same spot on the north side of the lake as the original sign, which was placed there in 2000.

The leader of a Buffalo Soldiers re-enactment group hinted last summer that there was a move to shift the sign to Florida Avenue for greater exposure. But others interested in Lakeland’s African-American history lobbied to keep it in its current spot.

The new sign, erected 2020
The old sign, erected 2000. Photo: July 2019

The cast aluminum sign is nearly four feet by four feet. It was ordered and installed by Dixie Signs at a cost of $5,153.00, according to Pam Page of the Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department.

She said she expects the new sign to last about as long as the old one did.

The Buffalo Soldiers spent three weeks on Lake Wire — it’s not clear whether it was on the north shore or the east — in 1898 before shipping out for Cuba and the Spanish-American War. The marker has been recognized as part of the Florida Black Heritage Trail

The monument is visible from a sidewalk along the section of West Peachtree Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Lawton Chiles Academy.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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