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Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island

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Jekyll Island is an island off the coast of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, in Glynn County
Glynn County, Georgia
Glynn County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of 2000, the population was 67,568. The 2008 Census Estimate showed a population of 75,884...

; it is one of the Sea Islands
Sea Islands
The Sea Islands are a chain of tidal and barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the United States. They number over 100, and are located between the mouths of the Santee and St. Johns Rivers along the coast of the U.S...

 and one of the Golden Isles of Georgia
The Golden Isles of Georgia
The Golden Isles of Georgia are a group of four barrier islands on the 100-mile-long coast of Georgia on the Atlantic Ocean. They include St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Historic Brunswick. They are part of the Sea Islands.Since the American Civil War,...

. The city of Brunswick, Georgia
Brunswick, Georgia
Brunswick is the major urban and economic center in southeastern Georgia in the United States. The municipality is located on a harbor near the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 30 miles north of Florida and 70 miles south of South Carolina. Brunswick is bordered on the east by the Atlantic...

, the Marshes of Glynn
The Marshes of Glynn
The Marshes of Glynn is one of Sidney Lanier's poems featured in "Hymns of the Marshes," an unfinished set of lyrical nature poems that describe the open salt marshes of Glynn County in coastal Georgia. The poem describes a marsh in detail, while evoking senses of patience and common decency.In...

, and several other islands, including the larger St. Simons Island
St. Simons, Georgia
St. Simons is a census-designated place located on St. Simons Island in Glynn County, Georgia, United States. Both the community and the island are commonly considered to be one location, known simply as "St. Simons Island", or locally as "The Island". St...

, are nearby. Its beaches are frequented by vacationers and guided tours of the Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 Historic District are available. Bike trails, walks along the beaches and sandbars, and Summer Waves
Summer Waves
Summer Waves is a water park that is located on Jekyll Island, Georgia, an island midway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. The park consists of eight major water attractions. All of the rides and attractions are included with park admission....

, a waterpark, are a few of the many things vacationers can do. The district consists of a number of buildings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The island is also full of wildlife
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

, consisting of many different mammals, reptiles and birds living and breeding in the island's inland marshes.

Physical Setting

Jekyll Island is one of only four Georgia barrier islands that feature a paved causeway
In modern usage, a causeway is a road or railway elevated, usually across a broad body of water or wetland.- Etymology :When first used, the word appeared in a form such as “causey way” making clear its derivation from the earlier form “causey”. This word seems to have come from the same source by...

 to access the island by car. It features 5700 acres (23.1 km²) of land, including 4400 acres (17.8 km²) of solid earth and a 200 acre (0.809372 km²) Jekyll Island Club
Jekyll Island Club
The Jekyll Island Club was a private club located on Jekyll Island, on the Georgia coastline. It was founded in 1886 when members of an incorporated hunting and recreational club purchased the island for $125,000 from John Eugune du Bignon. The original design of the Jekyll Island Clubhouse, with...

 Historic District. The rest is tidal marshlands, mostly on the island's western shore. The island measures about 7 miles (11.3 km) long by 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide, has 8 miles (12.9 km) of wide, flat beaches on its east shore with sand packed hard enough for easy walking or biking, and boasts 20 miles (32.2 km) of hiking trails.

Like the other Sea Islands, Jekyll is mostly made of older Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 land mass and smaller sections of younger Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...


Northern end of the Island

The north end of the island is the main area that has been impacted by human development over the past few hundred years. Early settlers and the loggers that came after they developed plantations in this area and made fallen trees to be used for extra-strong ships during wartime. In later years, much of this wilderness has been developed into golf courses.

Clam Creek Picnic Area

A short winding road leads to a parking lot and one of the three picnic areas on the island. To the west is a vast marsh
In geography, a marsh, or morass, is a type of wetland that is subject to frequent or continuous flood. Typically the water is shallow and features grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, other herbaceous plants, and moss....

Hammock (ecology)
Hammocks are dense stands of hardwood trees that grow on natural rises of only a few inches higher than surrounding marshland that is otherwise too wet to support them. Hammocks are distinctive in that they are formed gradually over thousands of years rising in a wet area through the deposits of...

 and an astounding view of the Sidney Lanier Bridge
Sidney Lanier Bridge
The Sidney Lanier Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the Brunswick River in Brunswick, Georgia, carrying four lanes of U.S. Route 17. The current bridge was built as a replacement to the original lift bridge which was twice struck by ships. It is currently the longest spanning bridge in...

, a 203 feet (61.9 m) tall suspension bridge on Hwy 17. There is a large fishing pier that extends northwest from the picnic area. To the east, a bridge crosses Clam Creek in front of an inland marsh to connect the picnic area to the North End Beach and Driftwood Beach. These beaches are characterized by another tidal creek emptying into St. Simons Sound and a boneyard of pine and live oak tree roots, killed by beach sand eroded toward the south end of the island.

Horton House

A two-story structure built from tabby
Tabby (cement)
Tabby is a building material consisting of lime, sand, water, and crushed oyster shells. It was developed and used by English colonists in Beaufort County and on the Sea Islands of coastal South Carolina, in coastal Georgia, and in northern Florida in the Southern United States...

 in 1742 stands in ruins along N. Riverview Rd. The house was occupied by Major William Horton during the British colonial period, who also brewed beer in Georgia's first brewery (the ruins of which are a few hundred yards down the road). This structure has been meticulously preserved over the past 100 years as an example of coastal Georgia building techniques and as one of the oldest surviving buildings in the state. Across the street from the Horton House ruins is the du Bignon cemetery, a tabby wall surrounding the graves of five people who all died in the 19th century.


Just across the street from the entrance to the Clam Creek picnic area is the campground, an 18 acres (72,843.5 m²) facility in a cleared maritime forest
Maritime forest
A maritime forest is an ocean coastal wooded habitat found on higher ground than dune areas within range of salt spray. They can be found along the Atlantic coast of the United States...

. The campground has running water for restrooms, showers, and laundry, as well as a store and bike rentals.

Southern end of the Island

The southern end of the island was virtually unused by settlers and visitors until the 20th century. After homes and motels were built along the northern beaches of the island, the southern areas were majorly used by African-Americans for segregated facilities until 1964. The multiple parallel dunes on the southernmost tip are a result of the beach sand from the eroding north beaches traveling southward and being deposited in a recurved spit
Spit (landform)
A spit or sandspit is a deposition landform found off coasts. At one end, spits connect to land, and extend into the sea. A spit is a type of bar or beach that develops where a re-entrant occurs, such as at cove's headlands, by the process of longshore drift...


South Dunes Picnic Area

This picnic area on the ocean side of the island features plenty of picnic tables, a full bathroom with showers, and a boardwalk to traverse the 20 feet (6.1 m) high dune ridge that protects this wooded area from sea breezes. This area was repaired in 1983, with bulldozers pushing new primary dunes into place to correct the damage caused by 30 years of beachgoers trampling over the enormous dunes to the beach. Alligators can be seen here in the two ponds near the boardwalk.

Glory Beach

Access to this beach is by way of a long boardwalk built in the mid-1980s by the producers of the film Glory, and it can be accessed from the soccer complex at the north end of the Jekyll Island 4-H center property. The boardwalk passes through a variety of natural habitats ranging from ancient dunes to freshwater sloughs
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

. Looking south from the beach at the end of the boardwalk one can easily see Little Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island is one of the Sea Islands. Cumberland is the largest in terms of continuously exposed land area of Georgia's barrier islands. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the U.S. state of Georgia and is part of Camden County...


St. Andrews picnic area

The farthest point on the beach from Clam Creek, St. Andrews is a picnic area on the river side of the island, facing the marsh and mainland. This beach is very popular with fishing birds and dolphins, surfacing for air, can commonly be seen to the south.

In 2008, the Jekyll Island History Museum, the Jekyll Island Authority, and the Friends of Historic Jekyll Island commemorated the survivors of the slave ship Wanderer, the last slavery vessel to transport slaves without repercussions. On November 28 of 1858, nearly 50 years after the legal importing of slaves was outlawed in the United States, The Wanderer anchored near the southern portion of Jekyll Island, transporting 465 enslaved Africans ashore. The historic site includes 12 feet (3.7 m) tall steel sculptures of ship sails, signifying the cold hard reality of slavery.

Jekyll Island Club Historic District

In the mid-section of the river side of the island is a 240 acre (0.9712464 km²) Historic District where most of the buildings from the Jekyll Island Club
Jekyll Island Club
The Jekyll Island Club was a private club located on Jekyll Island, on the Georgia coastline. It was founded in 1886 when members of an incorporated hunting and recreational club purchased the island for $125,000 from John Eugune du Bignon. The original design of the Jekyll Island Clubhouse, with...

 era still stand, most in remarkable preservation. The centerpiece of the grounds is the enormous Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a two-winged structure that contains numerous suites for rental, including a beautiful presidential suite that contains the 3-story turret
In architecture, a turret is a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle. Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent wall in the days of military fortification...

 on the front of the building. Thirty-three buildings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries surround the hotel, with many being mansion-sized cottages. Rooms in some of these cottages are for rent, while others exist as museums, art galleries, or bookstores. The hotel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

. The historic district itself has been listed as a National Historic Landmark District since 1978.

Tram tours originate from the Jekyll Island Museum located on Stable Rd. directly across from the historic district several times daily and detail much of the history of this area.

Native American settlement

In the mid-2nd millennium, the island now known as Jekyll was part of a coastal Georgia Native American chiefdom called Guale
Guale was an historic Native American chiefdom along the coast of present-day Georgia and the Sea Islands. Spanish Florida established its Roman Catholic missionary system in the chiefdom in the late 16th century. During the late 17th century and early 18th century, Guale society was shattered...

. Muskogian tribes, who comprised a majority of the Creek Nation, were the inhabitants of this territory.

The surrounding creeks yielded fish that were speared easily by hunters, and the tribes utilized native vegetation for food and drink, gathering nuts and fruit, even making a type of tea from parched holly leaves. These settlers also allegedly grew pumpkins, beans, tobacco, sunflowers, and maize among other crops.

Arrival of Europeans

Explorers from Spain were the first to make an official claim to Jekyll Island in 1510, giving it the name Isla De Ballenas (Whale Island) and later Juan Ponce de Leon
Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named...

 served as the civil governor of this and Spain's other claimed North American territories. In 1562 French explorer Jean Ribault
Jean Ribault
Jean Ribault was a French naval officer, navigator, and a colonizer of what would become the southeastern United States. He was a major figure in the French attempts to colonize Florida...

 claimed the island for France despite the Spanish claim, describing the island as "the fairest, fruitfullest, and pleasantest of all the world," and renamed the island Ille de la Somme. Ribault later surrendered to the Spanish and was executed, an event that began a conflict between the two countries along the Georgia and Florida coasts. After his army swiftly defeated the French, Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 immediately had a colony established on Jekyll.

More brief conflicts between these two countries along the coastline followed, and Spanish priests had established missions with the intention of converting Native Americans to Christianity. Upset that their culture, including dances, banquets, and bonfires, was being suppressed, natives from the modern area of Darien
Darien, Georgia
Darien is a city in McIntosh County, Georgia, United States. It lies on Georgia's coast at the mouth of the Altamaha River about 50 miles south of Savannah, and is part of the Brunswick, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of Darien was 1,719 at the 2000 census. The city is the...

 began destroying the missions and slaying the priests in a southward journey; however, Father Davilla on Jekyll was spared, and kept as a slave (though he was later released to the Spanish in a prisoner exchange).

In 1663–65, England established grants to land stretching southward from their Jamestown
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

 colony to an area below St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

. The English allied themselves with the Cherokee, Creek, and Yuchi
For the Chinese surname 尉迟, see Yuchi.The Yuchi, also spelled Euchee and Uchee, are a Native American Indian tribe who traditionally lived in the eastern Tennessee River valley in Tennessee in the 16th century. During the 17th century, they moved south to Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina...

 tribes, and sent members of these tribes armed with English weapons to attack the Spanish and Native American settlements on Jekyll in 1681–83. By 1702, the English had driven the Spanish from the entire area.

The English occupation

General James Oglethorpe
James Oglethorpe
James Edward Oglethorpe was a British general, member of Parliament, philanthropist, and founder of the colony of Georgia...

 established Georgia as a colony in 1733. Jekyll Island was named shortly thereafter by Oglethorpe in honor of his friend, Sir Joseph Jekyll
Joseph Jekyll
Sir Joseph Jekyll KS was a British barrister, politician and judge. Born to John Jekyll, he initially attended a seminary before joining the Middle Temple in 1680. Thanks to his association with Lord Somers Jekyll advanced rapidly, becoming Chief Justice of Chester in 1697 and a King's Serjeant in...

. For many years, including the "Club Era", it was misspelled as Jekyl Island. The additional "L" was later re-added by the Georgia legislature in 1929 to correctly spell the name of the former sponsor of the colony. Prior to English settlement along the coast of Georgia, the Spanish had established missions
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

 in the coastal Georgia area. No mission is known to have been established on Jekyll; however, the Spanish influenced the island from the mission that was established on St. Simons Island before the English settlement.

In the late 1730s, General Oglethorpe appointed William Horton to set up a military post in the area to protect Fort Frederica on St Simon's Island. By 1738 Horton had set up permanent residence on Jekyll Island, near what is now called DuBignon Creek. At his residence, Horton established a plantation prosperous enough to supply the population at Frederica with beef and corn and ale.

Horton continued to make improvements on his property on Jekyll throughout his years on the island. Even after his property was destroyed in 1742 during Spanish attacks, he rebuilt his home and worked on new experimental crops on his plantation, including barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 and indigo
Indigo is a color named after the purple dye derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species. The color is placed on the electromagnetic spectrum between about 420 and 450 nm in wavelength, placing it between blue and violet...

. Horton’s wood residence was soon burned and ravaged by the Spanish, forcing him to rebuild his home and plantation after the Spanish attacks with the uniquely native material, Tabby
Tabby (cement)
Tabby is a building material consisting of lime, sand, water, and crushed oyster shells. It was developed and used by English colonists in Beaufort County and on the Sea Islands of coastal South Carolina, in coastal Georgia, and in northern Florida in the Southern United States...

. A mixture of lime, oyster shell and water, this strong building material withstood the test of time and the external structure of William Horton’s home is now one of two remaining two-story colonial-era structures in the state of Georgia. William Horton died in 1748–1749 and his property on Jekyll passed through many hands until, just before the year 1800, the entire island became the property of Christophe du Bignon.

Plantation era

Christophe du Bignon and his family arrived here in 1792. The family came to the United States in order to escape the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, which devastated provincial families like the du Bignons. The plantation that du Bignon owned on Jekyll was very prosperous and grew cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 as its main crop. Christophe du Bignon also introduced slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 to the island. Christophe died in 1825 and ownership passed on to his son Henri Charles Du Bignon. Under the new ownership of Henri Charles the plantation continued to prosper, as evidenced by the 1850 census
United States Census, 1850
The United States Census of 1850 was the seventh census of the United States. Conducted by the Bureau of the Census on June 1, 1850, it determined the resident population of the United States to be 23,191,876 — an increase of 35.9 percent over the 17,069,453 persons enumerated during the 1840...


On November 28, 1858, fifty years after the importation of slaves to the United States was made illegal, the ship The Wanderer
The Wanderer (slave ship)
The Wanderer is the last documented ship to bring a cargo of slaves from Africa to the United States . Stories of subsequent mass landings of slaves have been told, but are in dispute...

 landed on Jekyll Island with 465 slaves. This was the next-to-last successful shipment of slaves to American soil from Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...


However, by 1860, there was a great decline in the productivity on Jekyll. By 1862 when Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 troops arrived, the Du Bignon plantation was completely deserted. After the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 ended, the Du Bignon family returned to the island. Henri Charles divided the island up among his four children.

In the late 1870s John Eugene Du Bignon became owner of property on the island. He had bought the southern third of the island from his uncle’s estate, intending to establish a home there.

The Jekyll Island Club

Du Bignon, who had inherited the southern third of the island from his father, purchased the rest of the island from his siblings with the help of his brother-in-law Newton Finney and an investor. Their plan to sell the island as a winter retreat for the wealthy came to fruition on February 17, 1886, and the clubhouse was completed in January 1888. Fifty-three members purchased shares for $600 each, and a limit of 100 members was imposed to preserve the club's exclusivity.

From 1888–1942 the club opened every January, except a few because of Yellow Fever outbreaks, to accommodate some of the world's wealthiest people. Members and their families enjoyed activities such as biking, hunting, horseback riding, and tennis, and frequented the north beaches. Some of the more esteemed members built mansion-sized cottages that still stand in excellent condition today. During the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 the club experienced financial difficulties, and by the time the United States entered World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the era of the Jekyll Island Club was over. The state of Georgia condemned the island in 1947 and paid the remaining members a total of $675,000.

Planning of the Federal Reserve System

At the end of November 1910, Senator Nelson W. Aldrich
Nelson W. Aldrich
Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich was a prominent American politician and a leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, where he served from 1881 to 1911....

 and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department A. Piatt Andrew
Abram Andrew
Abram Piatt Andrew Jr. was a United States Representative from Massachusetts.-Biography:Born in La Porte, Indiana, he attended the public schools and the Lawrenceville School...

, and 5 more of the country's leading financiers, who together represented about one-fourth of the world's wealth, arrived at the Jekyll Island Club
Jekyll Island Club
The Jekyll Island Club was a private club located on Jekyll Island, on the Georgia coastline. It was founded in 1886 when members of an incorporated hunting and recreational club purchased the island for $125,000 from John Eugune du Bignon. The original design of the Jekyll Island Clubhouse, with...

 to discuss monetary policy and the banking system, an event led to the creation of the current Federal Reserve. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the 1910 Jekyll Island meeting resulted in draft legislation for the creation of a U.S. central bank. Parts of this draft (the Aldrich plan) were incorporated into the 1913 Federal Reserve Act. On November 5–6, 2010, Ben Bernanke stayed on Jekyll Island to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of this original meeting.

Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

magazine founder Bertie Charles Forbes wrote several years later:

Picture a party of the nation's greatest bankers stealing out of New York on a private railroad car under cover of darkness, stealthily riding hundred of miles South, embarking on a mysterious launch, sneaking onto an island deserted by all but a few servants, living there a full week under such rigid secrecy that the names of not one of them was once mentioned, lest the servants learn the identity and disclose to the world this strangest, most secret expedition in the history of American finance. I am not romancing; I am giving to the world, for the first time, the real story of how the famous Aldrich currency report, the foundation of our new currency system, was written... The utmost secrecy was enjoined upon all. The public must not glean a hint of what was to be done. Senator Aldrich notified each one to go quietly into a private car of which the railroad had received orders to draw up on an unfrequented platform. Off the party set. New York's ubiquitous reporters had been foiled... Nelson (Aldrich) had confided to Henry, Frank, Paul and Piatt that he was to keep them locked up at Jekyll Island, out of the rest of the world, until they had evolved and compiled a scientific currency system for the United States, the real birth of the present Federal Reserve System, the plan done on Jekyll Island in the conference with Paul, Frank and Henry... Warburg is the link that binds the Aldrich system and the present system together. He more than any one man has made the system possible as a working reality.

Development of the Jekyll Island Authority

Initially, Jekyll Island was part of the State Park
State park
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the federated state level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational...

 system. However, by 1950, as costs associated with getting the island ready for visitation began to mount, the island was taken out of the state park system and organized into a separate authority in order to become self-sustaining.

The Jekyll Island Authority was created in February 1950 under the direction of Governor Herman Talmadge
Herman Talmadge
Herman Eugene Talmadge was an American politician from the U.S. state of Georgia. He served as governor of Georgia briefly in 1947 and again from 1948 to 1955. His term was marked by his segregationist policies. After leaving office Talmadge was elected to the U.S...

, and was designed to be a governing board. This board consisted of nine gubernatorial appointed members and was charged with the operation and care of the island.

The authority placed a convict camp on the island in 1951, and the prisoners readied the island for public use, executing landscaping for drainage and for the foundations of motels and neighborhoods and building the perimeter road. From September 1951 to December 1954, the island was primarily closed to the public. Upon completion of the six-year causeway project and drawbridge erection on December 11, 1954, Jekyll Island officially re-opened to the public.

Because the post-WWII plan for Jekyll was for the island to become self-sufficient, and because the Authority was receiving negative publicity in the mid-1950s, the Georgia Legislature restructured the Authority in 1957. Board members became elected officials and included the attorney general, state auditor, public service commissioner, state parks department director, and secretary of state.

In the decade following this restructuring motels, houses, the convention center, and a shopping center were constructed, as well as the towers at the entrance to the causeway. In the 1970s the Authority began renovating the cottages and club hotel in the historic district, and the 1980s saw construction of bike paths and the re-opening of the clubhouse in December 1987. Two more reorganizations of the Authority in the 1970s and 1980s changed the board to consist of the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and eight citizens of the state.

Some of the later advancements made by the Jekyll Island Authority include the Soccer Complex, Tidelands Nature Center, the Jekyll Island Tennis Center, a Historic District registered with National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 Status in 1978, and most recently, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

In 2006, plans to revitalize the island were put into place after years of significantly declining visitation numbers. In 2007 the Jekyll Island Authority selected Linger Longer Communities LLC to be its private partner in redeveloping a portion of the Island. After a year of planning and hosting public forums throughout the state of Georgia, the Authority and Linger Longer developed a revitalization plan that included a renovated Convention Center and mixed-use public Beach Village to occupy a very similar footprint to that of the current Convention Center, beach deck, and adjacent asphalt parking lot. The Beach Village is also set to include an area for new retail shops as well as a public beach-side promenade.

A once-per-day toll has been charged for several decades to enter Jekyll Island. The rate was one dollar in 1985, but has increased since then and became five dollars in August 2009.

By legislative mandate, sixty five percent of the island is and will remain in a mostly natural state (including parks and picnic areas).

Use as a filming location

Scenes from the film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

s X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class is a comic book series published by Marvel Comics starring the X-Men.-Publication history:The original series was an eight-issue limited series. It began in September 2006 and ended in April 2007. It was written by Jeff Parker and penciled by Roger Cruz...

, Glory, The Legend Of Bagger Vance
The Legend of Bagger Vance
The Legend of Bagger Vance is a 2000 American film directed by Robert Redford and starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. It is based on the 1995 book of the same title by Steven Pressfield and takes place in the U.S. state of Georgia in 1931...

, Jekyll Island, and The View From Pompey's Head were filmed on Jekyll Island.

Research and further reading

  • Condominium Hotel & Conference Center, Jekyll Island, GA see www.jekyllislandga.com
  • Jekyll Island Photo and Information Booklet Jekyll Island Museum & Jekyll Island Authority
  • McCash, June Hall. The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony. University of Georgia Press. 1998. ISBN 0-8203-1928-7.
  • McCash, William Barton and June Hall McCash. The Jekyll Island Club: Southern Haven for America's Millionaires. University of Georgia Press. 1989. ISBN 0-8203-1070-0
  • The Jekyll Island Museum and archives, Jekyll Island, Georgia

External links