Shreveport, LA 71115
*Photos courtesy of www.hauntla.com
I have always been a huge fan of amusement parks. Fortunately, the love for death defying roller coasters and other nausea-inducing rides have been inherited by my daughter, as I now have a companion to ride with. Unfortunately, Louisiana has never been known for having many, if any, amusement parks. The only one that has been around during recent years was the old Jazzland, later becoming Six Flags, in New Orleans. The park was only opened several years, as Hurricane Katrina would condemn it. This has now left Louisiana “park-less”, having to travel to Arlington for the closest available place to get your roller coaster fix.
One park that existed for over thirty years in Shreveport was the popular Hamel’s Amusement Park. For years, this park was the ideal place to take your hyper kids, wearing them out with a day full of great rides and carnival games. The park began as a simple dairy barn in the early 1960’s. With the purchase of a few llamas, goats and lambs, a small petting zoo was incorporated onto the grounds to occupy the children as their parents purchased dairy products. As time went on, more animals arrived such as wild cats, peacocks, elephants and primates, turning the petting zoo into a full blown zoo. With the addition of a small train, Hamel’s Zoo was becoming quite the local attraction by the 1970’s.
By the mid-1970’s Hamel’s began adding on to the grounds, adding a building with children rides and a venue to host birthday parties. They then began establishing larger amusement park rides such as chain swings, a log flume and a roller coaster. This was the birth of Hamel’s Amusement Park. By the mid-1980’s the park was the prime place for children to congregate without having to
|Photo of the old Thunder Rail roller coaster.|
Some say that even once the doors closed for good at Hamel’s Amusement Park, spirits lingered behind. While some feel it to be Mr. Hamel himself, others claim the haunts are blamed on an individual who reportedly died while constructing the log flume ride. Staff who once worked at Hamel’s claimed that at late hours of the night the log ride and roller coaster would turn on by themselves and start cycling through. Those who lived near the park would often claim to hear the train whistle blowing in the middle of the night when all of the employees had gone home. Today, most of the rides have all been dismantled and all that remains is the log ride, parts of the old train track and a few of the pavilion buildings. For those who have visited the park, I would love to hear some of your memories.