Saving Agrirama's choo-choo -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Saving Agrirama's choo-choo

By Jay Polk - bio | email

TIFTON, GA (WALB) - After the Civil War, steam trains helped to open up the state for development. But these days, the only steam train that regularly runs in the state is at Agrirama. Now it's in danger of being shut down for good.

Johnny Johnson is a Tifton native. In his youth, he grew up near the railroad tracks.

"I grew up just looking at the trains," he said.

That experience gave him a love of railroading. Today, John Johnson is the curator of the Georgia Agriculture Museum, and he has been able to showcase for their visitors a 1917 Vulcan locomotive.

Steam engines like this one used to play an important role in the state, according to railroad enthusiast John Carson.

"This is typical of the small engines that were used to get the hard pine out of the woods to the main line," he said.

And from main line stations like Tifton, the wood would be sent around the world. But now, these trains are only a part of the state's history. So, where better to feature them than in a place that celebrates Georgia's Agricultural History: Agrirama in Tifton.

Now the train that has ferried thousands of visitors throughout Georgia's Agrirama faces an uncertain future.

Like many other historical sites around the state, Agrirama has been hit hard economically.

"Due to some of the cutbacks, in compensating for that we've had to cut out some expenses," Johnson said.

And one of the victims was the daily train service. The train was shuttered because of it's cost, even though it doesn't sound like it's all that expensive to run.

According to Johnson, "it takes roughly 200 to 250 dollars a day to operate the train."

But some railroad enthusiasts were not going to let this train just sit in the yard.

"We can't imagine the Agrirama without it. So we're trying to raise money through a grassroots campaign to try to get the train running again," said Bret Wagenhorst of the group Save Our Steam-train.

Their goal is to raise enough money to keep the train going. The initial goal of the campaign is small: to get the train running at least occasionally.

"They're going to try to run it at least one weekend a month," said Wagenhorst.

The group is hoping to raise enough money to keep it running every day, like it used to. For them, losing the train altogether would be a tragedy.

"Well, it'd be terrible," said Carson.

And they're hoping that in the future more visitors can say that they rode the train at Agrirama.

Scheduled Steam Train Operation Days - 2009
This schedule is subject to change.




May 23  


Third Saturday  

June 20


Third Saturday

July 4


4th of July Celebration  

July 18


Third Saturday

August 15


Third Saturday

September 19  


Third Saturday

October 17


Third Saturday

November 21


Third Saturday

December 5


Victorian Christmas Event

December 19


Third Saturday

All steam train rides cost $3.00 per person on days that the steam train is running.

The steam train can be booked for other occasions such as birthday parties and group tours at the Agrirama for a nominal fee.  For special bookings of the steam train, please contact Sherry Miley at (229) 386-3406 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.


©2009 WALB News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly