In the spring of 1953, an immigrant farmer named Ünger Möller was hit by inspiration while mowing a hayfield. He was convinced it was the voice of God as heard by Noah and Moses before him.
God commanded Ünger to create a spectacular carnival on his property. The modern amusement park had not yet been invented, so it seemed an insane notion. But Ünger Möller knew God’s voice when he heard it. He borrowed a bulldozer and tore up thirty acres of cornfield. He constructed a log ride out of grain chutes and iron scaffolding. It took him a year.
That June, he took out a full-color advertisement in the Des Moines Register. He called the place Neverland.
Not a soul came.
Undeterred, he set to work building a village of cast concrete. Gingerbread houses, a miniature castle, dwarves and unicorns and gnomes and a twenty-foot giant, all painted vivid colors. Over the next decade, he added a ferris wheel, a lake with miniature sailing ships, a carousel, bumper cars. He conscripted his sons and daughters as a free labor force. He borrowed money from every bank he could, from his friends, from wealthy relatives in the Old Country. He installed a funicular ride he bought at auction, lit the midway with a hundred thousand bulbs so you could see the glow for miles.
The townspeople stayed away, more convinced than ever he was a madman.
By the time Ünger died in 1983, Neverland covered six square miles and featured custom-designed roller coasters, gravitational slings, centrifugal wheels, all in excellent condition because they were so seldom used.