Tourism is a big draw for Americus - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tourism is a big draw for Americus

April 8, 2004

Sumter County-- Few places can claim to be home the three internationally known tourists attractions, but that is the case here in Sumter County. People from all over the world come to visit several spots within a few miles of where we are right now.

Gifted students from Columbia, South Carolina are seeing the kind of poverty more than a billion people around the world live in. They're touring Habitat for Humanity's Global Village and Discovery Center, an attraction that opened last summer in Americus.

Over 12,000 visitors since June have gotten a glimpse at urban poverty, see examples of more than a dozen homes that Habitat builds in countries throughout the world, and learn about Habitat's global mission. "Very few people realize that Habitat is in 92 countries throughout the world," Says David Williams, Habitat Executive V.P.

Plains is about 8 miles away, where you can visit the hometown of Habitat's most famous volunteer, former President Jimmy Carter. Gary Westfall brought his mother Wilma to Plains from Ohio to learn more about our 39th President. "I guess I'm gonna say this, I'm a Democrat,” she says. “I voted for him."

Gary says, "It's part of our country's history and heritage. People, when they get a chance to, should see these things."

And people from all over the world do see these things, the map at the Plains Visitors Center proves that. They can see memorabilia from the Carter Campaign, visit the new museum at the Carters' old school, and simply enjoy the simple life in Plains.

"They want to see what life was like for President Carter as a young boy and the roots that made him what he is," said Visitors Center Manager Penny Smith.

From the presidential election of 1976, to the war that divided America in the 1860s. Not to be missed is Andersonville National Cemetery. "Approximately 45,000 Union soldiers came through the gates of what was Camp Sumter, and of that number about 13,000 died," said Lead Park Ranger Joan Stibitz.

The cemetery and old prison site aren't the only attractions here. "Some people are more surprised to find that we tell the story of American prisoners of war in general through the National POW Museum," says Stibitz. Many former POW's make pilgrimages here, among the 180,000 people who visit Andersonville every year.

So whether you want to learn about civil war history, get inspired by the story of a peanut farmer who became the most powerful man in the world, or find out how you can make the world a better place for others-- you can do it all right here in Sumter County.

A few other points of interest are:

  • Souther Field, between Americus and Andersonville. That's where Charles Lindberg took his first solo flight.
  • The Georgia Rural Telephone Museum in Leslie, the world's largest collection of telephone equipment.
  • And the Tog Shop, one of the country's largest ladies mail-order catalog operations. It's based in Americus and is one of the city's biggest employers.

posted at 2:00PM by dave.miller@walb.com