May 13, 2004
Cordele-- You can come here to begin a train journey that will remind you of the past as it helps build a better future for this area.
The number of people climbing on these old railcars, surprises even the folks who run the SAM Shortline Excursion Train. "It's a vintage 1949 Bud Cars," Train Manager Kathy Odom. "Our budget was first based on 50 to 75 passengers, and last year we averaged 269 passengers every time we rolled out."
You can enjoy food in the commissary car. "If there's anything you need, we've got a car host on board." The luxury of first class, and the unique perspective of seeing the farm fields and pecan groves and waterways of south Georgia; no matter your age.
"On the train, it's longer and you can see more stuff out the window and the window's bigger," said passenger Justin Parks. "Yes sir, it's pretty fun."
The train travels to Americus, Plains, Leslie, and Archery. But its managed by the state park system, and the first stop nat is at Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park. "We're the busiest state park in Georgia," said Mike Goodwin, Interpretive Park Ranger.
1.5-million people visit this 1,300 acre state park every year. The attractions include Lake Blackshear, camping, and golfing at a top-flight public course. "Some people claim it's the best in the state," Goodwin said.
You can also learn about the contribution of American veterans. "We do our best not only to honor Georgia veterans, but really any veteran."
A year and a half ago, The Retreat Hotel and Restaurant opened. It's one of the few state-owned facilities like this at a state park in the whole country. "We had the governor of Arkansas here a couple of weeks ago and he made the comment that he would like to talk to our governor about picking this place up and moving it to Arkansas," said General Manager Garrett Miller. "But we're gonna keep it."
And the attractions at the park, And on the rails, are going to keep visitors rolling into Crisp County.
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