Lincoln Land Amusement Park, Effingham, IL (1977-1988)
I personally met with Jim Mayhood, one of the owners children, at the Genealogy Department of the Helen Matthes Library in Effingham on Saturday, November 2, 2013. We chatted for an hour. He gave me a Lincoln Land Amusement Park Token. Jim and other siblings worked at the park over the years. As they used to joke among each other, "Open rain or shine."
The amusement park was open seven days a week between May 23rd and September 1st and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday's the rest of the year. The park was billed as the World's largest indoor amusement park with 100,000 square foot of entertainment.
"A land of thrills. A land of excitement. Lincoln Land offers entertainment the whole family will enjoy."
[BEFORE LINCOLN LAND AMUSEMENT PARK]
Eugene “Gene” Mayhood, a man with a lot of “get up and go” is the genius behind the building of the Lincoln Land Amusement Park in Effingham, Illinois. Mayhood bought 30 acres of land in 1971. The only building on the land had previously been used as a livestock sale barn. Using that structure as a base, G. C. Murphey Co. and Eisner’s were the first two stores to open for business in 1972. The opening of 26 other stores led Mayhood to purchase an additional 50 acres. JCPenney and 14 other stores opened at the mall in 1977. During the mall’s peak years, Mayhood also operated an indoor amusement park at the Lincoln Land Building, which is now an office/retail center. Mayhood sold the mall to New York-based Elart Corp. in 1988.
[HISTORY OF LINCOLN LAND AMUSEMENT PARK]
The completely enclosed and air-conditioned Lincoln Land amusement park offered free parking and admission. It housed a huge, full size Ferris wheel that nearly touched the ceiling, a large carousel, the scrambler, tilt-a-whirl, the casino ride, the hurricane, bumper cars, astro-liner and a moon walk, along with many other carnival type rides. A section had over 80 arcade games and midway games of chance with prizes awarded; clown racers, hoop la 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, a special area for picnics. The park also had an auditorium that would seat 1,000 people that presented family shows and live entertainment.
A large stairway in the middle of the park took you upstairs. On the 2nd floor there was the Skate Land roller rink with a huge skating floor, the Country Club Golf Course with 18 holes, and tots can enjoy their own brand of fun in Kiddie Land. A specially created playland giving younger children the excitement they want and the safety they need.
In the early 1980s, the building had 15 major rides. Lincoln Land is the main reason why there are thousands of parking spaces at Village Square Mall today, as it would be packed nightly back in the 1970's and 80's.