Road weary travelers making their way north or south on Interstate 75 in Georgia can take a break from the traffic and get an idea what life was like in simpler times with a stop at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village in Tifton.
Here, visitors can experience things from a 19th century point of view in a village consisting of over 35 historic buildings, explore farmyard’s, see a variety of livestock, ride on a historic steam train, and stop at the drugstore for a snack or lunch. And all the time, you are surrounded by the past.
The 95 acre site, devoted to preserving Georgia’s wiregrass past, includes a traditional farming community one might find in the 1870s, an 1890s progressive farmstead, an industrial site complex, and the Museum of Agriculture Center.
Visitors can explore farmhouses, a sawmill, a turpentine mill, an old-time schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and a gristmill, as well as other shops and homes that make up the village. Friendly costumed interpreters are on hand to explain and demonstrate the old-time skills and daily activities one might see their neighbors doing over a century ago.
Two structures were very important to the pioneers in early settlements and signified that their town had arrived and was there to stay – the schoolhouse and the church. In those days, the church was not only a place of worship, but also an important community center. Here, covered dinners were held, picnics took place on the church grounds, and people came to watch young couples be married and to say goodbye to their friends and neighbors at their funeral services. The village’s church, with its wooden pews and floors, is open to visitors to remind us that anyplace can be a place of worship, it doesn’t have to be a fancy cathedral with stained-glass windows and deep pile carpeting.
In those days, just getting a crop in and harvested and the day-to-day work of life meant that education was often secondary, though still very important. In many small one or two room country schools, classes were scheduled around the busy planting and harvesting seasons, when every hand was needed to work the fields.
Another important part of rural communities like these was the gristmill. It was here that farmers came to have their crops milled for everything from grits to meal. While that work was being done, the men would gather to discuss the news of the day, maybe arrange a horse trade or two, and share both their joys and sorrows. The village’s water powered gristmill was originally built in 1879 in Worth County, Georgia, and if you time your visit right, you might get to see it in action.
James Shepherd, inventor of the mechanized peanut combine, is honored at the Peanut Museum. Displays inside the museum include Mr. Shepherd’s combine, a collection of antique plows, and peanut industry artifacts. But the building is more than a museum, it is also a popular venue for weddings.
The homes at the village range from simple farmer’s cabins to the beautiful Victorian home of Captain H. H. Tift, for whom the city of Tifton is named. The house features high ceilings, beautiful wooden floors, curly pine molding, ornate wallpaper, and is filled with antique furnishings.
Other homes, while not as elaborate, are very interesting to see. You’ll come away appreciating all of the conveniences of modern day life.
Who doesn’t like vintage trains? The village’s steam powered locomotive is reminiscent of those used to haul logs to sawmills in the old days. If you visit on a Saturday, you can even ride the train!
All of this and more awaits you at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village. Summer hours at the village are 10 AM to 3 PM Tuesday through Saturday, though different hours may apply to the Country Store and other features of the village. Admission is $7 for adults; $6 for seniors; $4 for children ages 5 -16, and kids 4 and under are free.
The Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village is located at 1392 Whiddon Mill Road in Tifton, just off of Interstate 75 at Exit 63. For more information, call (229) 391-5205.
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Thought For The Day – Some people say their body is a temple. Mine is more like a bouncy castle.