Shore excursion – New Madrid, Missouri: True story on Lincoln Logs

You never know what you’re going to learn and where you’ll learn it. That is one of the joys of travel.

The story of the popular Lincoln Logs was revealed in New Madrid, Missouri.

On our first American Queen cruise stop, we pulled into New Madrid, Missouri. At the tiny town’s historical museum, I discovered an interesting tidbit about Lincoln Logs.

My brothers had played with the toy building blocks when I was a kid. And I always thought the name Lincoln Logs referred, of course, to Abraham Lincoln. After all, he was known as the great log rail-splitter and the future president who grew up in a small log cabin.

But that is not where the name came from at all.

The New Madrid Historical Museum has a great collection of earthquake information and memorabilia. At one exhibit, you can turn on a make-believe “earthquake” and see how long a toy building can withstand the violent shaking.

That is where I discovered some trivia about Lincoln Logs and, of all people, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Japan to withstand earthquakes.

Because Japan is prone to earthquakes, the famed architect used a series of interlocking notched wooden beams when designing the Imperial Hotel. The result, he claimed, would make the hotel “earthquake proof.”

Miraculously, the hotel was one of the only buildings to survive the Tokyo Earthquake of 1923 (magnitude 8.3). That design also was the inspiration for the creation of the popular Lincoln Logs.

John Lloyd Wright, son of the legendary architect, thought of the Imperial Hotel design when he created Lincoln Logs in 1916. And the “Lincoln” in the name is a nod to the Wright family – not to the Honest Abe connection. The Lincoln in the title actually refers to John Lloyd Wright’s father’s given name of Frank Lincoln Wright. Lloyd was the surname of Frank’s mother and he adopted that name when his parents divorced.

For more information, contact the New Madrid Historical Museum at (573) 748-5944,

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