HISTORIC LANSING: Waverly Amusement Park, 1882-1917
Between 1882–1917 Waverly Park – originally called “Leadley’s Park” after owner Gottlieb Leadley – was located along the northern banks of the Grand River, on the southeastern corner of Old Lansing & Waverly roads (SEE PHOTO GALLERY BELOW).
It had not only amusement rides but Tillie the Black bear and an alligator – both of which escaped to the horror of residents. Tillie was recaptured without harm but the gator never was found. In fact, a newspaper, The State Republican, reported: “Should there be any mysterious disappearance of small boys in the next few weeks, while bathing in the waters of the Grand, it can be accepted as fact that one alligator has had a square meal.”
The park also had a hotel where you could stay and enjoy more fun the next day.
According to mgrow.org, after Gottlieb Leadley passed away in 1897, the park was bought by the Lansing City Electric Railroad Company in 1903. The park finally closed for good in 1917 when it's customers started heading over to the Pine Lake Park (later called Lake Lansing Amusement Park), thus taking Waverly Park's business - and income - away.
For fun, go out to the corner of Old Lansing & Waverly roads and see if you can locate any last remnants of that old amusement/family park…but the area is now covered with houses and is mostly private property. Good luck with THAT.
For LOTS of info and many cool old photos of the park, go to waterwinterwonderland.com by CLICKING HERE.
To see a few more cool photos of this long-lost Lansing amusement park, as well as TONS of information, check out this article from a 1987 edition of Metropolitan Quarterly.