August 14, 2008
Tifton -- Do you ever wonder what life was like before the invention of cell phones and computers?
The Georgia Agrirama is an attraction that's shows what rural life in Georgia was like 100 years ago, and it's only a stone's throw from one of the busiest highways in America.
Modern living. With all of the stuff that we have to deal with today, it can leave your head spinning. But one place celebrates a simpler time in Georgia's history-- Agrirama.
At the blacksmith shop, a craftsman is forging his creations of iron over a hot fire. At the sawmill, lumber is being cut, maybe this wood will one day build a house. At the grist mill, corn is being processed into that favorite staple of the Southern diet then and now, grits.
At the printer's shop, the old press still cranks out the guide that today's visitors will use to get around. And at the doctor's office, there's a cure for what ails you. And you don't even need insurance.
If you can't pay the doctor in cash interpreter Pauline Talley tells you how you could pay up: "He has a chicken coop on the front porch. You could bring him some chickens put 'em in the chicken coop and that would pay your doctor bill."
Like many of the buildings in the re-created village, the doctor's office was carefully moved to Agrirama and restored exactly as it was during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But while the village is interesting enough, it's not the only thing to see here.
Georgia Agrirama is actually two attractions in one. On one side we have what a rural south Georgia community might have looked like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And on the other we can see what a rural South Georgia farm might have looked like during the same time period.
And connecting it all, sort of bisecting the two, is a vintage steam train. The train takes riders for a loop around the 95 acre site and is popular with the both the young - and the young at heart. It's actually a young whippersnapper by the standards of this place. It was built in 1924.
Meanwhile, down on the farm, the natural order of things hasn't changed much since the early 1900s, even if some of the equipment has. The crops still grow in the fields, the chickens still lay their eggs and the mules are just as stubborn as ever.
The authentic nature of the site, and it's central location, draws many youth groups from around the region. And while the kids are having fun, they're learning about days gone by as well.
Sirocus Barnes of Kamp Kaleidoscope in Valdosta said, "it gives the kids the opportunity to experience life as it was in the older days. It gives them an opportunity to see how some of the pioneers may have lived, some of the people in the early 1900s. It's just very educational."
And Agrirama does a lot of educating. During the school year, it's a popular site for students to visit. James Higgins, the director of Agrirama told us that: "close to half of our visitorship is school groups. And that's for our tours as well as our hands on workshops."
But if you thought Agrirama was just about lifestyles of 100 years ago, think again. There are some modern touches here, too. According to Higgins, "we now have our new museum here."
That would be the museum of agriculture. It allows visitors to see some of the equipment that people used during the time period covered here at Agrirama. It's part of a new visitor center and shop that greets people as they first come onto the site. The shop actually sells some of the goods that the interpreters manufacture here, yes including the grits.
So you can get that taste of the past without having to work on that time machine in your garage.
Of all of the places that Jay has been to so far, Georgia Agrirama is the easiest to get to from Interstate 75. Simply get off at Exit 63B and follow the signs to the park entrance. Agrirama is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.