Plains was founded in 1827 after federal authorities forced out Creek Indians under the Treaty of Washington, and was located one mile north of its present site. The surrounding land is flat, and Plains was originally called the Plains of Dura, after the biblical place.
Like most farming communities in the South, Plains subsisted mainly on cotton production until 1915, when farmers were forced to find another crash crop after the boll weevil infestation substantially reduced cotton acreage. Largely due to the work of George Washington Carver, an African American agricultural scientist who taught at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, there was a large shift toward peanut farming in Georgia. Plains is still known for its peanut production, which is celebrated in the annual Plains Peanut Festival held each fall.
Plains became famous in 1976 when Carter ran his presidential campaign from the historic depot. Carter was raised in Plains, where as a boy he sold the peanuts harvested on his family's farm to the townspeople. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, returned to Plains at the end of his presidential term in 1981.
Another area attraction is the SAM Shortline Excursion Train. This historic train line, which created a direct route between Savannah, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama, by way of Americus, dates back to 1888. Visitors can ride the train through the countryside of southwest Georgia between Cordele and Archery. Tourists can also visit the Plains Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Steven Borns, People of Plains, Georgia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1978).
Jimmy Carter, An Hour before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001).
Marcia Klenbort, The Road to Plains: A Guide to Plains and Nearby Places of Interest in Southwest Georgia (Atlanta: Avery Press, 1977).
Beth M. Walters, History of Plains, Georgia, 1885-1985 ([Plains, Ga.?: n.p., 1985]).
James E. Bagwell, Georgia Southwestern State University
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.