*Note, this site is closed to the public which is why I am not revealing its exact location. Trespassers are not welcome so be sure to stay out of the woods. Simply look from across Route 30.*
I have been passionate about hidden history and abandoned locations for pretty much as long as I can remember. I can say, however, that I can pretty much pinpoint what started my interest in these things — historic Route 30.
When I saw younger, my parents would take Route 30 to Breezewood when we would go on vacation. I was fascinated by the roadside attractions such as Idlewild Park, Kings & Queens Restaurant, the S.S. Grandview Ship Hotel, and of course, Storyland. Of them all, Storyland was my favorite. It is the things that children’s daydreams are made of — ok, maybe not all children, but as least children such as myself who love imagining what once was.
Storyland was opened in the 1950s as a roadside attraction. It featured many concrete figured from beloved fairy tales and nursery rhymes. It was one of many of roadside attractions that popped up along Route 3o to attract tourist traffic.
Unfortunately, the 80s were not a good time for Route 30 and the Lincoln Highway. By then, the turnpike became the preferred method of travel, bypassing many of the former attractions. This lead to a decline in traffic and forced many of the attractions to close. By the mid 1980s, Storyland closed for good. That’s not the end of the story, though.
For years, the statues remained in the woods, falling prey to vandalism and Mother Nature. Paint was peeling and the castle was torn down. I feared the rest would soon follow.
Thankfully, the site began to have a bit of a facelift around 2007. The owner’s daughter painted the statues and opened a country store near the entrance.
Probably the most well-known aspect of Storyland is the impressive 18-foot tall Pied Piper standing guard at the entrance. Now he simply stands between two small turrets, but at one time was part of a larger display which included an entrance sign and a large castle facade. (The castle would have been at the end of the driveway you see behind me in the picture.)
If you look closely in the woods you will see remnants of the old park, including some of the old statues and buildings. Once again, although it may be tempting, DO NOT GO IN THE WOODS. Just look from across Route 30.
Although I have long wondered what the park looked like when it was in operation, I found a few clues from old postcards and old photos I have acquired over the years. One of my favorite cards is the Old Woman in the Shoe.
This is what the site looks like now.
The day I visited Storyland I simply took photos of the park from across Route 30. Of course, I would have loved the opportunity to see the park close up, but the owners were very adamant that no one was allowed in the woods. They still live on the property so that is totally understandable.
This is what some of the attractions used to look like.
I was able to see some of the old attractions from the road, however. It is fascinating to match them up with the old advertisement I have above. See what they look like now:
The three bears and their cottage…
… Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-eater’s house…
…an ice cream house, a big whale, jack-in-the-box (on the left), and Humpty Dumpty (on the right)…
…another view of the ice cream house, a horse, and the big whale…
…a gingerbread man and the crooked house…
…the little red schoolhouse and jack-in-the-box…
… and the barn for the cow jumped over the moon.
Although the days of many of this roadside attractions are long over, I’m glad to see that Storyland still exists and maybe, just maybe, the site of the old Pied Piper and other statues will ignite a passion for history and what once was in other children such as myself.
However, if you are interested in checking out an operational children’s amusement park such as Storyland, you will want to check out Storybook Forest at Idlewild & SoakZone.
For more reading about these attractions, check out these books: