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Jekyll Island

Nostalgic, romantic, enchanted, and desolate Jekyll Island lies off the coast of Georgia. This area of Georgia is known as the Golden Isles. My visit was in the early spring and the first of my photo treks. Jekyll Island is nostalgic, filled with romance, enchanted with ghost stories, and filled with loneliness. First, a little bit of background about Jekyll Island.

During the late 1800s, the Jekyll Island Club was formed and purchased the island. The club was the playground of the rich and famous. Members included J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, William Vanderbilt, Marshall Field, Joseph Pulitzer, and more. This club became one of the richest, and most exclusive. This era ended at the beginning of World War II; the island was sold to the state of Georgia. Today, it is home to many and is a popular destination for travelers.  This era is the root of several famous ghost stories. Perhaps during my visit to Driftwood Beach, I felt one.

Many of my friends, told me to photograph Driftwood Beach. One told me that it was the most romantic place ever. As I walked down the trail to the beach passing by a tree that marked the beach area, I felt a chill. Climbing over the sandy knoll, I looked out to the beach. I felt loneliness as I stood staring at the trees. Romantic, no, desolate, decaying, bleached, and barren trees were strewn before me.

Photographing these bleached and decaying trees, I felt chilled even though the temperature was quite warm. At times there was no breeze just a haunting silence. To me, it was very lonely and desolate. I chose to make my study in black and white emphasizing the deep dark shadows adding to the dramatic landscape.

Later at lunch, I learned a ghost story about the beach. In the 1910s, William J. Hart was patrolling the beach early one morning finding two poachers stealing turtle eggs. Hart confronted the men and one of the poachers shot Hart dead. It is said his spirit still patrols at dawn, but his footsteps are wiped out by the waves. Perhaps, his spirit is the chill I felt earlier on Driftwood Beach.

Seeing a lot of bicycle trails, I decided to bring my bike tomorrow.

The next day with my bike, I stop at the visitor center to get a map and learn of another tragic ghost story. It involves the accidental shooting of Edwin Gould Jr. (the son of Edwin Gould, a railroad magnate) right near the toll booth outside the center. He died there in a hunting accident. You can learn more about it and other stories here:

Back to my bike ride.

I start riding on the Atlantic side planning to bike around the island. There are over 25 miles of trails. I plan my route with trails that take me by beautiful beaches, into jungle forests, and a stop at the historic district, where the Jekyll Island Club is located.

Visiting the grounds of the Club, I learn more stories. As I walk alongside the lush greens and majestic trees, I think about how I’m walking along the same path of the famous men a century ago, experiencing the opulence of the Millionaire’s Village (the nickname for the historic district.) Having lunch on the pier, I learn about the visits of J.P. Morgan. It is said that J.P. Morgan’s yacht was so big that it was necessary to moor it in the channel and take a tender to shore.

Sadly, my visit ended way too soon. I arrived too late for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Well, it’s always best to save something for next time. Yes, Jekyll Island is nostalgic, romantic, enchanted, and desolate, and yes, I am looking forward to returning.

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