Friday, January 27, 2017

Lincoln Land Amusement Park in Effingham, Illinois. (1977-1988)

After a year's worth of telephone conversations, I finally set up a meeting with Jim Mayhood, one of Charles Eugene "Gene" Mayhood, the owner's children, at the Helen Matthes Library in Effingham on Saturday, November 2, 2013. We chatted for just under an hour. Jim gave me a Lincoln Land Amusement Park Token. Jim and his other siblings worked at the park over the years. One of their slogans was "Open Rain or Shine."

"A land of thrills. A land of excitement. Lincoln Land
offers entertainment the whole family will enjoy."


Gene helped expand Effingham's landscape on the south side of town. He bought 30 acres of farmland and built the Village Square Mall. 

Initially, Gene started many businesses in the mall, including the Carousel Ice Cream Parlor, Computer Village, Keyboard Music Company, the Playland Arcade, Radio Shack, the Village Cinemas, and the Village Snack Bar.

When Gene reached 26 stores, he purchased 50 acres for expansion. JCPenney and an additional 14 new businesses opened at the mall, anticipating a massive boost in foot traffic from the draw of a new indoor amusement park in 1977. 

Gene Mayhood, the man with a lot of "get up and go," was the genius behind building the indoor Lincoln Land Amusement Park in 1977, right next door to the Village Square Mall. 

The amusement park was open seven days a week between May 23rd and September 1st and on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the rest of the year. The park was billed as the "World's largest indoor amusement park," with 100,000 square feet of entertainment.
The enclosed and air-conditioned Lincoln Land amusement park offered free parking and admission. It housed a giant, full-size Ferris wheel that nearly touched the ceiling, a giant carousel, the scrambler, tilt-a-whirl, the casino ride, the hurricane, bumper cars, Astro-liner, and a moonwalk, along with many other carnival-type rides.
A section had over 80 arcade games and midway games of chance with prizes awarded; clown racers, hoopla toss, basketball, milk can softball, shoot-out-the-star, loads of skee-ball machines and a grand photo center.
There were 4 Food and Refreshment Areas and a special area for picnics. The park also had an auditorium that would seat 1,000 people that presented family shows and live entertainment.
There was a giant stairway in the middle of the park. On the 2nd floor was the Skate Land roller rink with a huge skating floor, the Country Club Miniature Golf Course with 18 holes, and a game arcade.

Toddlers and young children could enjoy themselves in their own Kiddie Land, a specially created playland giving kids the amusement park excitement they wanted and the safety parents demanded.

In the early 1980s, the building had 15 major rides. Lincoln Land is the main reason why there are hundreds of parking spaces at Village Square Mall today, as the lot was packed nightly back in the 1970s and '80s.
Gene sold the mall to New York-based Elart Corporation in 1988. The amusement park building is now an office/retail center.

Jim Mayhood says the main reason Lincoln Land Amusement Park closed was the drastic drop in guests and the yearly increase in operating expenses. 

Jim has kindly permitted me to recreate the Lincoln Land Amusement Park logo. I offer some great items. Thank you, Jim. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. I had so much fun there I enjoyed it and I miss it even as a adult I would still go there it is sad that kids now didn't get to experience the fun there sure wish Effingham would come up with something fun for kids today Thank you because that was some of the best times when I was young

  2. It was such an awesome place for a kid! There was no getting in trouble because there was so much fun to be had and not a gigabyte of internet used! Good, old-fashioned fun and it was great because you made friends from neighboring towns and everyone pretty much got along.

    1. I wonder if this is my cousin Val? Every time I visited from Granite City, we would go to Lincoln Land and pretend like Clyde was on the rocket to the moon with us. Then we'd imagine that we'd leave him on the moon so he could be abducted by aliens. Plus, how could we ever forget the time Ronald McDonald came to the the McDonalds in Effingham, and I knew right away by the sound of his voice that he was an IMPOSTOR.

    2. Val, do you remember that time we went and saw an entire Amish family from Mattoon enter the Rocket to the Moon?
      They started screaming in terror because they thought they really were journeying to the moon. The dad somehow managed to crawl out through the nose of the rocket, and all we could hear was his wife screaming, "Duncan! Duncan!! You'll be killed!"


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