|Hamel's was an amusement park that sat right on the outskirts of Shreveport, just to your left when you start to go over the Jimmie Davis Bridge. The park was around
for over 25 years. Originally a dairy, Hamel's transformed into its amusement park form in the 1970's. It closed and re-opened a few times, but was finally closed for
good in 1999.
The park had several rides which included the following
-The Log Ride
-A Go Kart Track
-A Train Ride
-A Kiddie Barn, with rides such as The Whip, A Car Ride, A Flying Airplane Ride, and a Kiddie Roller Coaster out back
-A Shooting Gallery
-An Arcade, including Skee-Ball
-Several barns and pavilions that held company get-togethers, children's entertainment, etc.
Once the park closed, it was used for various things, mainly flea market type events. For a short time, it also housed the local attraction Kiddie Mia's. The park was
recently purchased by a church for their congregation. The only thing that still remains is The Log Ride, and the buildings that once housed it's popular rides.
UPDATE 4/28/06 THIS IS A NEW E-MAIL FROM CHRIS AND HAS PLENTY OF INFO OF HOW HAMEL'S USED TO BE
Hamel's did start out a delivery service dairy company. However, in the late 60's/early 70's they began to faze out the delivery service and began to focus on a
drive-thru store on the Hamel's farm land. At that time it was in the country - they had just completed the Jimmie Davis Bridge. They also had a Drive-thru store in the
city near Cross Lake.
I'm not sure exactly when the zoo officially opened, however I can remember it started as a petting zoo for kids. We'd go get milk (in the old bottles) and then head
over to pet the lamas and lambs. Eventually they built a primate house that mainly had chimps in it. I didn't like it all that much because they were loud. From there
they added a few big cats, peacocks and an elephant. The animals were always changing except for the elephant and the tiger.
Around the early 70's they put in a train ride and the chimp house was converted into a tunnel (if I remember correctly). The idea was that the kids could ride the train
while mom or dad drove through to get dairy products.
Around 1973-74 Hamel's built a big red metal building that had kiddie rides in it (merry-go-round, helicopters, the whip, boat ride and car/motorcycle ride). It had picnic
tables on one end for birthday parties. We had a BUNCH of birthdays out in that old building. Hamel's would serve ice cream, punch and cake as part of the deal - plus
unlimited rides on the attractions. My favorite ride was the helicopters because you'd pull a lever and they'd go up. The best part was you could rapidly push and pull
the bar and the helicopters would bounce.
I think the next thing that was added was the tilt-a-whirl and maybe the chain swings. I know the log ride was a major deal when it opened in the late 70's/ early 80's.
It was somewhere around this time that the dairy and zoo closed for good (though there were still some lamas and peacocks running around). I know we were still
getting Hamel's ice cream in 1980.
Around 1981 we moved to Colorado Springs. We didn't move back to Shreveport until 1985. It was during that time that the roller coaster, carnival games, Skee-Ball
and most of the other rides were added. Sorry I can't help you with the order for that time period.
When we got back to Shreveport Hamel's had become kind of a major thing - particularly since Six Flags Over Texas was a three hour drive. Terry Bradshaw (who
grew up in Shreveport) would have a fund raiser out there every year. He'd bring in his NFL football buddies to hang out, sign autographs and play a celebrity flag
football game. Hamel's also featured some national music acts (mostly country) under the pavilion. This would have been around 1986-1989. That was pretty much
the heyday for Hamel's Amusement Park.
When I moved to Florida in 1995 Hamel's was still open, but a fraction of it's former self. I was sadden - though not surprised - to hear that it shut down for good. As
I said before there are many wonderful childhood memories of Hamel's.
As far as it being haunted I can remember hearing rumors and stories about that in junior high. One story was about the log ride running by itself in the middle of the
night. The rumor was that it was the ghost of a guy that died building the log ride. There were also stories about people living around Hamel's hearing the train whistle
late at night - past when somebody would be operating the park. I think that story actually made the Shreveport Times because there were so many official complaints.
Then again, that could just have been a rumor passed around.
I can also remember Hamel's closing twice because the Red River came over the banks and flooded the land. Once it closed for several months to clean it up and
refurbish the rides.
Another e-mail from Courtney Wiseman with mentions of animals
and haunted rides
It was originally a dairy. Mr. Hamel was in the dairy business, which was door to door in glass bottles. You could go get fresh milk and ice cream also delivered door
to door back in early 60's, when my mom was born. The dairy was also a zoo. Once the dairy business slowed down, he made a local zoo for the local kids and also
used it as a rescue and help for injured animals. It was called Hamel's Zoo. My mom went to field trips there in second grade at Riverside Elementary to the dairy and
the petting zoo. There was a train which was where you could see the pets. They had all kinds of animals there, like one elephant one named Sally, peacocks, spider
monkeys, rabbits, lions, tigers, chimps, and rhino's. The famous chimp's name was Buddy. Buddy was a naughty monkey. He would throw poop, scratch his butt,
holler at you, mimic you, and stick his tongue out. The peacock would chase you if you let them. The kids who grew up in Dixie Gardens used to visit after hours and
hang out with the Hamels kids and other neighborhood kids. They would ride their bikes and sneak in. Back in 1964-1977, when Mr Hamel died, the zoo started going
down hill, which was when the amusement park was born. His son took over and made the park. My dad, My uncle, my mom, my grandma, my grandpa, great uncle
Gerry, and aunt Charlotte (Polly Teutch ran the park from 1974-1999) When it closed, my family was still in the outskirts of the park in the funnels cakes, snow cones,
and etc. In the big barn, known to locals as the Kiddie Rides and Kiddie Barn, was where birthdays and such were held. The tables each have wooden people on it. All
of these were hand painted by my grandmother Nita Guyton and family. The commercials I and my cousins and pals were in it, swinging around with the well known
Hamels dog. I was also in carousel. The commercials advertising Hamels were shown in the late 80's to early 90's.
The go-cart track! Man that was my favorite. We used to have races and when the park would close we would ride the go carts in the park.
Now on to the haunted stories. The photo you call the old entrance was because it was remodeled back in 1992. The old barn you think the little one where the gate is
the old office. Originally it had no gates and was just wide open. People used to hold their company picnics there.
The log ride used to run by itself late at night. The car would just start going up the hill and it would run by itself. One of the bumper cars crashed into the railing and
went through the wall. It spun and went into the wall but no one was in, it nor was it on.
With the roller coaster, my uncle and dad put it together. They got to be the first ones to ride it and it derailed. The Magic Carpet you could spin the whole carpet thing
around as you listen to Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride.
Now on to a tragic result. On the Yo-Yo ride, the hydraulics crashed and the swings and arms crashed and closed while people were on it. That was a sad night for me
and my family. The ferris wheel used to come on by itself and go all on its on. This is the one that was crushed in the storm, in around 1996. There was a gator that
was on grounds that roamed the Red River and marshes of Hamel's land. It ended up one night in the little pond that the train ran around. Me and my cousin Jamie were
out there smoking a cigarette one night, when we were about the age of 15. That thing came out of the water and chased us all the way to where the ferris wheel and
Tilt A Whirl met. It was every bit as big as about 500 lbs
Thanks to Cyndi for the pictures