So Garner bought 1,200 acres along Canada Road, just north of the new I-40 expressway, built a massive dam, dug artesian wells, and in no time at all had the largest lake in Shelby County. Seeing as he had a nice lake and plenty of land, he called his new venture Lakeland, and then proceeded to piece together what he would describe as “The World’s Largest Playground.” He brought in a skyride from the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, an old timey steam railroad called the "Huff n Puff," and lots of midway-type rides and games. Then he added a racetrack, dance pavilion, and all sorts of other entertainment — some of it rather bizarre.
Lakeland opened to the public on June 1, 1961, and it was quite a place — for a while. But there's really not a trace of it today — except for the lake, of course, and patches of the old racetrack in the woods.
What happened to Lakeland? You can hear the whole amazing story on the next episode of the WKNO series "Southern Routes." It airs Thursday, May 6 at 8 p.m., repeating on Saturday, May 8 at 2:30 p.m.; and Sunday, May 9 at 12 noon. It also airs on WKNO-2 on Saturday, May 8 at 9 p.m.