Lincoln Land Amusement Park (Effingham, IL)

I was three or four years old when my family would occasionally visit L-I-N-C-O-L-N-L-A-N-D.

Lincoln Land was, at the time, the (self-proclaimed) largest indoor amusement park in the world. Located in Effingham, Illinois, it was less than an hour away from my hometown and I was young enough that my mom was able to spell out our destination in order to truthfully answer my "Where are we going?" query without giving away the surprise.

I was also young enough that I pronounced it "Wincoln Wand."

Lincoln Land is one of those places of which I have very distinct memories but little evidence to back up those recollections. Here's what I remember for certain:
  • People had to walk through a long corridor from the Effingham mall to get into Lincoln Land. I'm guessing there was probably a direct entrance somewhere on the exterior but we always went through the mall.
  • There was a rocket ship that you could ride. Dark inside the rocket, a screen in the front would show your path as the rocket moved as though you were actually traveling through the sky.
  • There was a performance stage in a small auditorium room near the rocket ship ride. I recall seeing a magic show there.
I have only one single piece of evidence that Lincoln Land ever existed which comes in the form of a photo booth Polaroid picture of me and my family taken there sometime in the late 1970s.

That's me on the right.


And that's it.

I've searched the internet high and low looking for anything to spark my Lincoln Land memories -- a poster, a snapshot, anything. But I've always come up empty.

Until recently.

I've learned many times over that once you stop looking for something, that's when you'll find it. On a whim, I recently decided to give another shot at a Google search for "Lincoln Land Effingham" and I about went through the roof when a few legitimate results were returned. None of this "Land of Lincoln" stuff I'd been faced with many times in the past. This was legit Lincoln Land.

Apparently, someone from the website Living History of Illinois had tracked down an individual from the family that owned Lincoln Land and had acquired and added several images to their site under a section about Illinois amusement parks.

There was the rocket. There was the Ferris wheel.


[Image courtesy of Living History of Illinois]


[Image courtesy of Living History of Illinois]

I gazed at these images in amazement as I was immediately back at Lincoln Land. Even if just in my mind and only for a moment, it was like a whole section of memories had been unlocked in my brain and I was there.

Lincoln Land, of course, is long gone. It closed its doors in the mid-80s and, as far as I know, the building is now used as office space.

With confirmation that I hadn't imagined Lincoln Land, and as a lover of "stuff," I wanted more. I wanted my hands on something tangible from this place that I had visited a few times as a kid and countless times in my mind as an adult.

A quick eBay search later and would you believe that there was a guy out of Canada selling an original Lincoln Land token?!?

Bought. Paid. Shipped. Delivered.

 

Now I know this is a long shot, but does anyone else from that area during that era have any hard evidence of Lincoln Land? I'm guessing many people remember the place, but what about something tangible?

If you've got any snapshots taken at Lincoln Land or any other memorabilia from back in the day, please get in touch! I'd love to see more!

Long live Wincoln Wand.

14 comments:

Derek Cruit said...

Apparently, Lincoln Land was a big deal in the Cruit household as well. Unfortunately, I have no memory. But a quick inquiry to my mom reveals that we went there once in a while, there was a big corridor you had to walk down, and BAM - Lincoln Land in all its glory hits you in the face.

She remembers an elephant of some sort.

Apparently, we would go out to eat and end up there and my dad would take my brother and I on a Ferris wheel, which was again a big deal.

On a side note.....At the mall, and Lincoln Land, there was a homeless man named Julio. Julio was a cross dresser in the 80's, which was quite the big deal as you did not see that every day. Julio was often seen walking the mall and Lincoln Land. He did not bother anyone, but was just kind of obnoxious and you just avoided eye contact (because that was just weird then).

Julio supposedly died in a house fire. He was found under the home's front porch. A quick google search shows no evidence of this however.

Unfortunately, no photos of Lincoln Land are known in this household either.

TL said...

Look into Alley Oop and you'll find your Julio.

Traci Lybarger said...

I remember the rocket ship, as it was my favorite ride. I also remember the ferris wheel and there were bumper cars upstairs. I am pretty sure that I have some Lincoln Land tickets somewhere. I don't recall if they were ride tickets or from the games, but I know they were red. If I find them, I will send them to you.

TL said...

And that would officially move you into the #1 spot as "favorite cousin" if you did.

Kathy Leonard said...

There was s skating rink. Granville Davis was Alley Oop. I have heard him referred to as Julio. You might try talking with Mark Mayhood at Northside Ford. I believe Mayhood Construction owned the building. He might be able to send you in the right direction.

CINDY BEAGLE said...

My Uncle Gene Mayhood owned Lincoln Land. I went there as a kid when we visited. My cousin Cathy ran the entire show so to speak. I grew up in NC so only got to see them about once a year. If you need any information Uncle Gene is still alive and kicking and loves to tell stories and jokes. I love that man and Aunt Jeannie so very much.

CINDY BEAGLE said...

Mark's sister Cathy ran it for their dad. They are my cousins. Mark can put you in touch with his dad or sister.

Chad Harmon said...

Have you tried contacting the Effingham Geneological Society?

TL said...

Cindy ... Drop me a line at timlybarger@gmail.com sometime if you get a chance. I'd love to touch base with your uncle sometime!

christyhak said...

Hi there!! So excited to see your post! My grandfather, Gene Mayhood is the man behind L-I-N-C-O-L-N L-A-N-D. About 1 1/2 years ago a local paper did a couple of articles on my grandpa. I want to send them to you...can you provide your email address? The building is now an office space, with many different retail and businesses. We have so many memories of the place, and I love that you do too!

TL said...

That'd be great...I'd love to see the articles! You can reach me at timlybarger@gmail.com

Michelle Hg said...

I was just thinking that I thought he was Alley Oop. Heir to the big media family.

The Rebel said...

Great blog you have here. I've been reading your previous posts too. Can't believe I haven't discovered your blog sooner...

TL said...

Rebel: Thanks! Glad to have you on board!