Mother Goose Gardens (Amusement Park), La Salle, IL (1957-1968)
Once the area's premier amusement park, Mother Goose Gardens opened in 1957 on nearly 50 acres near the south edge of Starved Rock State Park (Route 71 & the entrance to Starved Rock State Park). The name "Mother Goose Gardens" was copyrighted in 1957 by the Starved Rock Realty Company.
Each story from Mother Goose was represented by large characters that you could touch and climb on, captured in time, including a 30-foot reproduction of Mother Goose. There was a small pond that surrounded Mother Goose and ducks roamed the enclosed area surrounded by a white picket fence.
The amusement park had a big milk can at the entrance. Attractions included kiddie carnival rides like hand-peddled cars, a miniture train, tractor ride, the little dipper roller coaster, a Ferris wheel with canvas seats, a circular boat ride a petting zoo with Santa's reindeer, games of chance, a giant teepee pony rides. All the animals were owned by Jean Lyons, of La Salle and she operated the pony rides. The park had a souvenier stand.
Legend has it the origins of Mother Goose Gardens came after local investors visited a Wisconsin Dells attraction, Storybook Gardens. It was popular for years with local families as well as Starved Rock visitors. However, it was never a financial success. Mother Goose Gardens was closed in 1968. The owners sold the amusement park acreage to the state in 1968. Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.