We like to take the long way home. Rural Georgia has some of the prettiest scenery anywhere. It is without pretense. Cotton fields roll out as far as the eye can see making it look like it snowed last night. Peanut field ready for harvest lie waiting for the men and equipment. Straight lines of pecan groves line the fields like statue soldiers at attention. It is still possible to see tenant farmers’ cabins quietly decaying at the edge of the field. They still stand in testimony to harder times.
The back roads of Georgia are also filled with interesting places to stop off and sample some local color. The little town of Andersonville is one that we really enjoyed. Below is some historical background information that I gleaned from various local publications.
The little hamlet of Anderson was named for Mr. John Anderson who was a Director in the Southwestern Railroad at the time it was extended from Oglethorpe to Americus in 1853. It was known as Anderson Station until the post office was established in November 1855 and the government changed the name of the station from Anderson Station to Andersonville in order to avoid confusion with the post office in Anderson, South Carolina.
If you read the blog that we published about Camp Sumter, you will know that during the Civil War, the Confederate army established Camp Sumter to house incoming Union prisoners of war. The town of Andersonville served as a supply depot during the period, and it included a post office, a depot, a blacksmith shop and stable, a couple of general stores, two saloons, a school, a Methodist church, and about a dozen houses.
Until the establishment of the prison, the area was entirely dependent on agriculture, and, after the close of the prison, the town continued to be economically dependent on agriculture. Andersonville changed very little over the years, until 1968 when the large-scale mining of kaolin, bauxitic kaolin, and bauxite was begun by Mulcoa, Mullite Company of America, which turned 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of scrub oak wilderness into a massive mining and refining operation. Bauxite is a chief ingredient in the production of aluminum. The company now ships more than 2000 tons of refined ore from Andersonville each week. I did not know anything about mining in the South and in doing some research to learn more, I came across this paper which gives good background if you are interested: https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1199g/report.pdf
In 1974, long-time mayor Lewis Easterlin and a group of concerned citizens decided to promote tourism in the town by turning the clock back and making Andersonville look much as it did during the American Civil War. Now today Andersonville welcomes tourists from all over the world who come for the History, Museums, Eateries and to step back in time. It is charming with a big dose of friendly. We learned from chatting with some folks that the community comes together to foster a spirit of cooperation and commerce that is the best that small towns have to offer. One of the things we loved most about this little place was that there is a Town Dog. He was a stray from who-knows-where, so the folks around town just built him a dog house in the square and everyone feeds and cares for him. This caring seems to epitomize the spirit of the town.
The Andersonville Station Confederate Restaurant sits on the small square in the Historic Civil War Village of Andersonville, Georgia. We pulled into a parking spot and were greeted warmly by the owner/cook, Kimberly Ward and her waitress who were sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs recuperating from the lunch rush. A friendly old lab/cur cross got up to meet us and let us know he was open to any leftovers we might have. It seemed he doesn’t presently have a home and Kimberly is caring for him until one can be found. Needless to say, it was hard to leave without him, but we have such a full house already there was little choice. Kimberly assured me not to worry about him as a friend of hers was on the way to help. A cat rounded out the welcoming committee. For a variety of reasons, this stop called out to us as a Chance Encounter we simply could not pass by without learning more. So, in we went for lunch.
We love the juxtaposition of the local landscape with the local people. We try to get as close to the earth and the local culture as possible in the most respectful way possible. In keeping with the purpose of our travel and blog, when we are eating or visiting with folks we try hard to support local businesses and agriculture. We hope that you might have an opportunity to take the back road to Andersonville, stop by and visit the nice folks at the Andersonville Station Confederate Restaurant, 107 E. Church Street, Anderson, Ga They are working hard to preserve a slice of American pie, no pun intended.