10 things you may not know about Valdosta
Friday, June 21, 2019
Whether you've lived here all your life or you're just visiting, there's more to Valdosta and Lowndes County than meets the eye. Here are some juicy tidbits about our city that are sure to fire up your imagination and desire to explore Valdosta!
- Lowndes County was established in 1825, formed out of several land districts from Irwin County, Georgia. The county was named for William Jones Lowndes (1782–1822), a prominent South Carolina lawyer and congressman.
- In 1837, the City of Troupville was the county seat. When the Gulf and Atlantic Railroad decided to put a right-of-way four miles south of Troupville, the citizens of Troupville made an interesting move to ensure the future prosperity of their town—they picked it up and moved it four miles! The town was then renamed Valdosta, in honor of "Val d'Aosta," the plantation home of former Governor George Troup. In 1860, Valdosta was incorporated as the new county government seat.
- John Henry "Doc" Holliday (1851–1887), an American gambler, gunfighter and dentist, spent a large portion of his childhood right here in Valdosta where his family home still stands as a private residence! His father was a former mayor of Valdosta and some of his distant relatives still live in Lowndes County. Doc Holliday was one of the first students at the Valdosta Institute, a private school that provided strong classical education in mathematics, grammar, history, Latin and French. In 1872, he graduated from dental school and moved to Atlanta to practice dentistry. Doc Holliday was a good friend of Wyatt Earp and is best known for his role in the events leading up to and following the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
- Valdosta State University has come a long way! Originally founded in 1906, it didn't open until 1913 due to a lack of funding. The school opened as South Georgia State Normal College, a college for women, and taught a 2-year course in teacher preparation. In 1922 the school became a 4-year college, and the legislature changed the name to Georgia State Woman's College (GSWC). By that year, the school had grown to 402 undergraduates, and the training school to 108 students. In 1950 the school became co-ed and changed its name to Valdosta State College and then to Valdosta State University in 1993.
- Valdosta has 6 Historic Districts on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, Valdosta City Hall, Sunset Hill Cemetery, the Lowndes County Courthouse, the Carnegie Library and the elegant Crescent are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Speaking of the Crescent, this magnificent home is one of Valdosta's best-known landmarks. Built in 1898 by U.S. Sen. William Stanley West, the house gets its name from the circular veranda with 13 massive columns, each representing 13 original American colonies. It has beautiful test gardens, an octagon-shaped schoolhouse and a quaint chapel. Saved from demolition in 1951, it became the home of Valdosta's garden clubs.
- Valdosta began bottling Coca-Cola in 1987! Valdosta Coca-Cola Bottling Works was the second oldest Coca-Cola bottling operation in the United States. The company, which was originally owned by Eugene Robers "E.R." Barber and J.F. Homes, was eventually sold to Frank Barron in 1965. A few years later, Barron decided to stop bottling Coke and chose to make the Valdosta site a distribution center. This facility closed in 2011 when production shifted to Rome, Ga. However, Valdosta will always be remembered as the home of Coca-Cola.
- Valdosta's history has been closely tied to the soil and the city was once the inland capital for Sea Island cotton. In 1910, Valdosta had the largest cotton market in the world. The establishment of a cotton mill led to the creation of Remerton, a town now entirely surrounded by Valdosta that holds a separate city charter. When cotton crops were devastated by the boll weevil in the early 1900s, other crops such as pecans, peanuts, melons and tobacco rose in popularity. Agriculture continues to be a driving force in Lowndes County, and Pine trees are now the area's most important raw material.
- Trolley cars in Valdosta? That's right! After the Valdosta Street Railway was chartered in 1898, trolley cars started rolling through town just a few years later. The system stretched from the downtown Patterson Street area to what was known as Pine Park. In 1913, the service added a stop at - you guessed it - South Georgia State Normal College! The line also ran into the area known as Remerton. The Valdosta Street Railway closed in 1925 and the rails were paved over, but a few railway waiting shelters are still standing.
- Valdosta's first publicly-owned hospital, Pineview General Hospital, opened on June 1, 1955. Before Pineview opened, medical care in Valdosta was largely handled by private physician-owned hospitals, such as Little-Griffin Hospital. It was common practice for these facilities to accept only patients of the doctors who owned them. The hospital had many facility renovations and the name was changed to South Georgia Medical Center in 1971.