Jekyll Island State Park

Jekyll Island, GA

Nov. 9-16, 1999

In most cases we go into an area and decide on one thing we want to do a story on. In this case we decided to make an exception. Since the whole island is a State Park we decided to do our story on the entire island. Our first encounter with what they call the Jekyll Island Authority was as we crossed the bridge into Jekyll Island and were required to pay an admission fee. Actually they call it a "parking pass" but whatever they call it, it cost us $3 to get onto the Island. They explained that part of this fee was to pay for upkeep and maintenance on the various historical structures and on the island itself.
There is only one campground on the Island and it is called the Jekyll Island Campground (what else?) The campground was very picturesque and was filled with hundreds of Live and Laurel Oak trees. The Spanish moss is present everywhere. Of course anytime you have this many trees you have lots of "critters". Those with feathers and those with fur. Bob started calling the trees "artillery trees" because the small acorns, from the oak trees, came off with a "pop" and landed with anything from a "ping" to a "BANG" depending on their size. Well, after having been "pinged" once too often I decided desperate measures were needed, so I donned my "hardhat" to work outside. Then we had the attack of the Pileated woodpeckers. I'm sure these poor guys had no idea what was going on. All they knew was that their territory had been invaded by some "rather handsome" woodpeckers and they had to get rid of them. As a result they made a desperate attempt to break every mirror on every truck and/or motorhome in sight. Well sight is what it was, when you rode through the campground and saw $100,000 rigs with plastic bags from the local grocery tied over their mirrors.
In an effort to get a closer look at the Island Bob and I rented bikes from the campground and went sightseeing. I hadn't been on a bike in years, but it does seem to be true that it isn't a skill you forget completely. We only went out for a couple of hours the first day but we are seriously considering buying bikes because this was the perfect way to get around any tourist area without trying to get "Babe" (our truck) in and out of traffic and locating the elusive parking place. (More to follow on our bike adventures I am sure).
In order to find out the history of the Island we did several things. One of which was to purchase a booklet called Jekyll Island "A self-conducted tour" from a local store for $2.00. It proved to be very helpful. We started out at the Auditorium which had some very colorful wall murals giving the history of the Island. Jekyll Island was originally occupied by the Creek Indians. The Spanish came next 1566-1680. In 1680 the British attacked the island and drove off the Spanish and the Indians. From 1680-1733 the Pirates that roamed the seas found Jekyll Island a good hiding place. There are legends that there is still pirate treasure buried somewhere on the Island. Next came the British under General James Oglethorpe from 1736-1783. The Plantation Era was from 1742-1886. During much of this period the Island was owned by a Frenchman, Christophe Poulain duBignon. The duBignon house was restored and moved to its present location on the island. The family cemetery is also still here. In 1886, duBignon found out that there was a group of millionaires that wanted a private hunting and fishing club away from civilization but close enough for them to get to. As a result he approached them and they purchased the entire island from him for the sum of $125,000.

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