Actual Factual Georgia: Six Flags went from farm to local attraction

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Actual Factual Georgia: Six Flags went from farm to local attraction

Q: I would like to know something about Six Flags’ history. What was the property prior to the park’s opening in 1967? Was it a farm? Are there any remaining features from those earlier days?

—Don Stuart

A: It’s tough to picture it now, but before the Great American Scream Machine and the Great Gasp and even before the Dahlonega Mine Train, that land was a dairy farm.

Cows roamed the fields and hills and barns and buildings were scattered over the area that was transformed into the Six Flags Over Georgia in the 1960s.

Some of the farm’s facilities were used by the new park, which opened on June 16, 1967 in the southern tip of Cobb County that pokes down between Douglas and Fulton counties.

“There are buildings on the property that were some of the farm buildings, but nothing that anybody can see there,” said Tim Hollis, who wrote a book called “Six Flags Over Georgia,” published in 2006. “It was really, really out in the middle of nowhere.”

Hollis has been fascinated with Six Flags since his first visit as a youngster, just two months after it opened. His book provides details about the park’s start and plenty of photos of how Six Flags looked in those early days.

The pictures are a reminder of what I remember from spending many sticky summer days – thanks to my season pass – there in the 1970s.

Angus Wynne, who had developed and opened Six Flags Over Texas in 1961, wanted to do the same in another location. His company bought 3,000 acres just west of Atlanta with the idea of turning it into two kinds of parks – amusement and industrial.

“The amusement park was supposed to be just a tiny part of it,” Hollis said. “(Wynne) bought the land for the industrial park and wanted to draw attention to it, so he put a amusement park on it as well.”

I found it interesting that the original proposed name was Georgia Flags, not Six Flags Over Georgia.

The problem: Unlike Texas, the flags of six sovereign nations had not flown over Georgia.

The compromise: Use the Georgia state flag in addition to the U.S. flag and the national flags of the Confederacy, England, Spain and France, which might have been a stretch.

French explorers were known to sail up and down the coast of Georgia in the 1500s, but historians aren’t sure if they ever landed north of what is now Florida.

But anyway, 3,325 paid the $3.95 admission to enter the park that first day.

There have been many changes to the park through the years, but Six Flags remains a favorite summer activity.

If you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail Andy Johnston at q&a@ajc.com or call 404-222-2002.

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