Rural Heritage Trust















Lakeland Souvenir Postcard


   The City of Lakeland was incorporated in 1977, and the only one of the seven incorporated municipalities in Shelby County to be founded from an amusement park beginnings!! Unlike those other six communities, there was no town square, general store, state road, waterway, pioneer homesteads or a railroad line from the nineteenth century to formulate or grow around. Lakeland has always been known as a farming community, with the municipal infrastructure of roads, schools, parks, etc. popping up in the 20th century to support the neighborhoods stimulated by the convenience of I-40. Beverle J. Rivera was the first Mayor of Lakeland from 1977-1989.

   In 1959, the Lakeland Development Corporation was formed by Louis Garner, Founder and its first President. Garner Lake is a man-made lake, built in 1959 as the centerpiece of Lakeland Amusement Park, which operated until 1976. Garner Lake is the largest lake in Shelby County at 240 acres. The lake is approximately one mile long and 1/2 mile wide at the dam.

   The shoreline is 8.44 miles and today has numerous residences on its shores. Lakeland Amusement Park opened in 1960 and featured a sky ride over the lake, two railroad trains (one we all remember as Huff-N- Puff), numerous kiddie rides, games, amusements and a paddle wheeler riverboat on the lake. It was one time touted as the “Disneyland of the Mid-South” and closed in 1977.


   Lakeland Dragstrip, later knows as Lakeland International Dragway, opened on July 4, 1960. The visionary for Lakeland Drag Strip was Raymond Godman. The strip was featured in the 1971 cult film “Two Lane Blacktop”. In 1972 Big Daddy Don Garlits set an AHRA national E.T. record of 5.95 seconds. It was closed in 1979 and demolished in 2009 to make way for mixed-use industrial development, yet remnants of the track remain. The Lake District, which will take the place of the former Belz Factory Outlet Mall at I-40 and Canada Road, is an upscale 160+ mixed-use community surrounding a 10-acre lake and waterways. Designed to be an urban village, The Lake District will open soon (thelakedistrict.us).

   Lakeland (now between Highway 70 and Highway 64 in northeast Shelby County, and bisected by I-40) has grown from 612 residents in 1980 to over 12,400 residents in the 2010 census. Stonebridge Country Club is a 6,768-yard, tree-lined golf course opened in 1973. The Lakeland School System (LSS) is one of the highest performing school districts in Tennessee with its students scoring in the top 2% of all schools in the state. Lakeland Prep High School is scheduled to open in August, 2020. A 3-year project to completely redo the I-40 interchange (Exit 20) is now complete. In 2017, the City of Lakeland was designated as an Adventure Tourism District by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development! Lakeland Amphitheatre, International Harvester Park and Lakeland Senior Center are vibrant centers of activity in the community. Canada Road and Seed Tick Road are important thoroughfares.

With contributions from Kim Odom, Lakeland Senior Center.


For current information about Lakeland, please visit the official website:


Or, contact:
Lakeland City Hall
5854 Airline Road
Arlington, TN 38002

For more happenings in Lakeland, check out Facebook or Twitter:
Lakeland Currents delivers the latest new about the City of Lakeland.
Go to: lakelandcurrents.com

For information and history about Lakeland Amusement Park:




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