Jekyll Island History by Tyler E. Bagwell
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Jekyll Island, Georgia
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Peppermint Land Amusement Park

By Tyler E. Bagwell

In the 1950s and "60s Jekyll Island offered visitors a host of colorful entertainment attractions. Perhaps the most zany was Peppermint Land Amusement Park. In April of 1956 a theme park was erected on the island by Harvey Smith. Called Peppermint Land, the park was located in an area overlooking the ocean south of present-day Blackbeard's Restaurant. Attractions included an assortment of rides such as a Ferris Wheel, a small roller coaster, go-carts, and a miniature train. Proprietor Harvey Smith also owned the Southern Miniature Railroad Company at Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

In August of 1962, baby loggerhead turtles swarmed the train tracks of the park and temporarily closed several of the rides. A ranger from the State Game and Fish Commission along with two state patrolmen carefully gathered the turtles and safely deposited them back on the beach. The turtles were attracted to the amusement park lights and upon hatching, traveled toward the illumination. Harvey Smith remarked in a Brunswick News article that this is "a real coincidence." After checking his records, Smith noticed that baby loggerhead turtles had also swarmed the train tacks on the same date the previous year.

Harvey Smith declared in July of 1965 that Peppermint Land Amusement Park was closing. Earlier in the year, his lease had been switched from a multiple year to a month by month basis. Smith proclaimed he could not operate without the security of a longer lease and the park was dismantled. While Ferris wheels and go-carts are no longer entertainment choices on Jekyll, other island attractions such as unspoiled scenery and pristine beaches, and activities such as spotting deer and loggerhead turtles have taken precedence.

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