Lincoln Logs were invented in 1916 by John L. Wright, a son of the notable architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1918, they were marketed by the Red Square Toy Company and by John Lloyd Wright, Incorporated of Chicago, Illinois. While it is often assumed that the name of the toy relates to Abraham Lincoln, it is a reference to the inventor's father, since Frank Lloyd Wright's given middle name was "Lincoln". Lincoln Logs originally came with instructions on how to build Uncle Tom's Cabin as well as Lincoln's log cabin.
The architecture of the Imperial Hotel basement in Tokyo, designed by John's father, which used a unique foundation of interlocking beams to make the structure "earthquake proof", assisted in the designing of the toy logs.
The sets were originally made of 100% wood, with varying colors of roof pieces, but by the 1970s almost all the wood had been replaced by plastic. However, they have reverted to real wood on all their sets.