Several years back, Cordele and Crisp County won the title "Watermelon Capital of the World" for producing the sweetest and most abundant watermelon in the nation. Join us in June as we celebrate our famous crop at Watermelon Days Festival – where we celebrate the harvest and all that is good about summer in the South. Come and see all that Cordele GA has to offer from lakes, monuments, Industrial and historical sites.
But where did Cordele begin… with the railroad. This place where the railroads met was named CORDELE. Founded in 1888 by J.E.D. Shipp, of Americus, the City of Cordele was incorporated on December 22, 1888. As the railroads pushed their way into the newly settled land, the impact was tremendous. The railroads were such a large part of the city that it was called "The Hub City" by many of the people in that region. Cordele was named after Miss Cordelia Hawkins, eldest daughter of Colonel Samuel H. Hawkins who was president of the Savannah, Americus and Montgomery Railroad. As the railroads brought more people and business to the newly settled territory, Cordele was experiencing phenomenal growth. Before 1905 Cordele was located in southern Dooly County nine miles from the county seat in Vienna. With Cordele's continued progress, many in the community felt the need for a seat of government to be closer in proximity than Vienna. Crisp County was formed in 1905 by taking a portion of southern Dooly County. The newly formed county was named for Charles F. Crisp, Georgia lawyer, judge and congressman. Judge Crisp also served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1891 to 1893.
In November 1864 the area that is now Cordele served as the temporary capital of Georgia. During the last days of the Confederacy, Georgia's war governor Joseph E. Brown used his rural farm house to escape the wrath of Sherman's "March to the Sea." During that time the farm house which Brown called "Dooly County Place" served as the official capital for only a few days.
After the war, "Dooly County Place" was sold for $3,500. With the coming of the railroads, Cordele sprang to life from the old farm house. The farm house was replaced in 1890 by the Suwanee Hotel, which is still located in downtown Cordele. The construction of the hotel was a sign that a new generation was ready to embark on a historical path of its own.
That path turned into a "yellow brick road" in 1923 when a group of concerned citizens made it the number one priority to harness the waters of the Flint River for the purpose of erecting a hydroelectric plant. With hard work and unrelenting determination, the goal had been reached by August 1930.
With the flick of a switch the Crisp County Hydroelectric System was operational. The system was the first county owned electric system in the United States and paved the way for other such systems. What was unforseen in the early stages of development, however, could prove to be its greatest benefit. That benefit was the creation of Lake Blackshear, which attracts thousands of people to the area.
Driving around Crisp County is sure to please any newcomer looking for a home here. A mixture of new and historical homes is readily available in many stylish neighborhoods. A variety of possibilities is available including upscale neighborhoods and waterfront living along Lake Blackshear. Acreage is readily available for creating that small family farm, or for just enjoying the outdoors. Quality housing choices along with superb schools including public and private options and amenities give Crisp County a rare blend of large city services with small town appeal.
There’s plenty for the whole family here including four award winning golf courses, boating and fine arts clubs, and organized sports with the Crisp County Recreational Department and YMCA. Catch a ride on the SAM Shortline Excursion Train or visit Georgia Veterans State Park, Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club or the Cotton Museum in nearby Vienna.
For more information or a calendar of events, please visit http://cordelecrispga.com/
**Information provided by the Cordele – Crisp Chamber of Commerce
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