Millen lies on the Ogeechee River in Jenkins County, approximately fifty miles south of Augusta, and is the county seat. The earliest settlement in the area, dating back to 1835, Millen was originally called “79” due to its approximate distance from Savannah. At the time, the settlement straddled the line between Burke and Screven counties.

Caboose in Millen
Caboose in Millen

Courtesy of Theron Cates, Millen

The driving force behind the development of Millen was the railroad boom that swept Georgia in the 1840s and 1850s. In 1854 the Central of Georgia Railway, originating from Savannah, and the Georgia Railroad, originating from Augusta, connected at 79. Soon the town became known as Millen’s Junction, named for McPherson B. Millen, the superintendent of the Central of Georgia Railway. Shortly thereafter a train depot, warehouses, and a hotel sprang up in Millen’s Junction.

Millen Depot
Millen Depot

Courtesy of Theron Cates, Millen

During the Civil War (1861-65) a site for a prison camp to house Union soldiers was chosen just outside of Millen’s Junction. Fort Lawton was built in what is today Magnolia Springs State Park; the location was favorable because of its easy access to water, which was supplied by the springs, and because of its proximity to the railroad. On December 3, 1864, Sherman’s March to the Sea passed through Millen. Prior to the arrival of Union forces, Confederate soldiers evacuated the Fort Lawton prisoners to Savannah. Union troops found the existence of the prison camp and the proximity of a train depot sufficient reason to destroy Millen’s Junction.

Millen News Plant
Millen News Plant

Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

After the war, the town was rebuilt. In 1881 the city, now called Millen, was incorporated by an act of the state legislature. As the town began to grow, residents in and around Millen began to lobby for the creation of their own county. The city was oddly positioned at almost the exact corner of four very large counties: Bulloch, Burke, Emanuel, and Screven. The county lines of Burke and Screven ran directly through the center of town, which made it difficult for Millen citizens to conduct business at the various county seats, especially by horse and wagon. In 1905 the state legislature created Jenkins County. Millen was named the county seat, and a courthouse was built there in 1910.

Downtown Millen
Downtown Millen

Courtesy of Theron Cates, Millen

According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Millen was 3,120. Today Millen’s economy is based primarily on agriculture, agribusiness, and forestry resources. The town has its own hospital, Jenkins County Hospital, and is the site for the county’s elementary, middle, and high schools.

Magnolia Springs State Park
Magnolia Springs State Park

Courtesy of Explore Georgia.

Residents celebrate a fall festival, known as the Fair on the Square, each October at the courthouse square. The festival consists of arts and crafts and games for children. Nearby Magnolia Springs State Park offers a freshwater aquarium and a variety of opportunities for recreation that include hiking, biking, swimming, and fishing.

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Caboose in Millen

Caboose in Millen

This rail caboose sits on display in Millen and serves as a reminder of the railroad's importance to the development of this community. First called 79 and then Millen's Junction, the town of Millen served as the connection between the railways going to Savannah and Augusta.

Courtesy of Theron Cates, Millen

Millen Depot

Millen Depot

The train depot in Millen, in Jenkins County, was destroyed by Union forces during the Civil War and later rebuilt. Today the depot houses the "Olde Freight Depot Museum."

Courtesy of Theron Cates, Millen

Millen News Plant

Millen News Plant

Workers use an old Linotype machine, pictured at left, around 1932. The Millen News plant was located in the Lane Building on Winthrope Avenue.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
jnk097.

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Downtown Millen

Downtown Millen

Businesses along the main thoroughfare in downtown Millen face the very railroad tracks that spurred the town's growth. Today the agriculture and lumber industries drive Millen's economy.

Courtesy of Theron Cates, Millen

Magnolia Springs State Park

Magnolia Springs State Park

Magnolia Springs State Park near Millen provides a number of outdoor recreational activities for Jenkins County residents and visitors. The park also houses a freshwater aquarium.

Courtesy of Explore Georgia, Photograph by Ralph Daniel.