Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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.



  1. Remember this place and loved it as a kid!

  2. Great memories vising here. I think we collected Deans milk caps for entrance??

  3. You got in for free if you had straight A's on your report card in one subject.

  4. awesome , Mom took us on Thursday's, it was dime day.

  5. Wonderful Memories, It was the highlight of our summer. Kids would not appreciate it today..

    1. My sister and I worked at Mother Goose Gardens in the summers in our young teen years. It was a great job. I think I started working there at 13 years old. We made 33 cents an hour to start. We both had stints at being the train engineer. My grandchildren think that is fun and funny that their Nana was a train engineer. I am so excited to show them all these photographs and especially the train I drove. We helped with the flower beds, the little cars that ran off the track, kept all the Mother Goose characters clean, and helped with any job other job that needed to be done. One of my favorite parts of the job was being able to have the ice cream treats at the snack stand. It was really fun watching all the little children have so much fun all over the park. My last job of the day was to drive the train into the tunnel for the night.

  6. My parents took me there all the time. Loved the pony rides and the coaster.


The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is rated PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Comments not on the article's topic will be deleted, along with advertisements.