SAM Shortline provides relaxing journey by train

August 14, 2013 

Last week, I took a day out of the hustle and bustle of my life and relaxed.

I did so by sitting on a train for most of the day.

My oldest son, Ronnie, and I caught the SAM Shortline and spent a day riding the rails and seeing another side of Georgia.

For those of you not familiar with the SAM Shortline it is a state operated excursion train.

Depending on the day and the schedule, it departs from either Cordele or the Georgia Veterans State Park located on Lake Blackshear. The stops also depend on the day, but can include Leslie, Americus, Archery and Plains -- the site of President Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home.

The train ride itself takes passengers through some beautiful countryside. Across Lake Blackshear, past fields that, depending on the time of year, are full of corn or cotton, past houses where you can just imagine Andy and Aunt Bee sitting on porch churning ice cream.

At the different stops on the ride, you are on your own and can choose from historical attractions, shopping and, of course, grabbing a bite to eat.

The day Ronnie and I rode, we stopped first in Leslie. Leslie is home to the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum. Contained in the museum is one of the largest collections of antique telephones and telephone memorabilia in the world with some of the pieces dating back to the 1870s. The telephone museum also has a replica of a Creek Indian Village, displaying how far communication has come in the past 300 years. The museum also includes vintage cars and other exhibits.

Ronnie and I found the telephone museum fascinating, and we weren’t the only ones. We heard grandparents and parents showing children a phone that was in their own home or their parents’ home. Ronnie and I overheard one little boy ask his grandfather who had just explained how to use one of the older box type phones where to make a call you had to ask the operator to connect you.

“Well, I now understand how you talk on it, but how do you text?”

Ronnie and I enjoyed the telephone museum so much we are planning a return trip with my mother, who before marrying my father was a switchboard operator.

Back on the train, we next traveled to Plains, where many of our fellow passengers checked out the Jimmy Carter historical sites. Ronnie and I decided to check out the peanut butter ice cream instead and spent our time in Plains looking through shops.

Our time in Plains over, we boarded the train for our return to our car and again enjoyed the train riding experience.

Our trip was enhanced both ways by our extremely pleasant seatmates, Mr. and Mrs. Kent -- we are unfortunately not related -- from Griffin.

If you are looking for something fun and educational to do locally, then look no farther than the SAM Shortline. And if you have a pint-size train fan living at your house, the most famous engine of all will be there in October. That’s right -- a full sized Thomas the Tank Engine will be pulling the cars Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 25-27.

For more information or for reservations, visit

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