The SAM Shortline excursion train celebrates its 20th anniversary
April 23 — AMERICUS — Just in time for the 2022 Spring/Summer vacation season, one of the Southeast’s most beloved excursion trains celebrates its 20th anniversary. Now is the perfect time to plan a visit to Americus and Sumter County to ride the SAM Shortline for a nostalgic ride with scenic views of the Peach State, a path to presidential history, and plenty of shops and restaurants in Americas.
While some travelers make it their stopover south or north, Americus is a fun and memorable destination on its own.
The SAM Shortline Excursion Train is a memorable ride in climate-controlled 1949 vintage train carriages. Regular weekend excursions explore the rural landscapes and historic towns of Americus, Plains, Leslie and Archery, depending on the schedule.
Georgia’s only rolling state park includes four ticket options: Coach Class seats are in comfortable cars with cushioned bench-style seats. Deluxe seating includes a mix of complimentary drinks and snacks plus additional car features like carpeting, ceiling fans, tables and chairs. Upgrade to Premium service to enjoy a beautiful restored car, lunch, soft drinks and snacks throughout the day. The most luxurious is the President’s Class aboard a 1925 Pullman carriage. Restored to its former glory, this carriage offers access to the open deck as well as lunch, snacks and beverages (adults 16 years and older).
Check timetables for dates and times: Premium and Chairman classes are assigned seats and are not offered every day.
The small town of Peach State, Plains, was put on the map by the 39th US President, Jimmy Carter. At the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, explore the career of a small-town peanut farmer who also became a Nobel laureate, humanitarian, and author. Plains High School serves as the park’s visitor center and museum, with exhibits about the Carters before, during, and after his presidency. The Plains Train Depot in 1976 served as Carter’s presidential campaign headquarters.
Visitors can drop by Plain Peanuts for peanut butter ice cream and pick up a bag of peanuts from a local vendor for an edible take-out souvenir. In Archery, the train stops just steps from the front porch of Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm, a National Historic Site. If your itinerary includes a stop in Leslie, visit the Rural Telephone Museum housed in a beautifully restored cotton warehouse alongside antiques, switchboards, classic cars and more.
In addition to regular plains and archery excursions, the SAM Shortline is planning many special trips in 2022 guaranteeing safe and fun adventures. Schedules include wine and cheese tasting trains in April, July and October; “Plains, Trains and Fireworks,” Sumter County’s biggest fireworks show on July 2, and trips to the Plains Peanut Festival in September. This year, Murder Mystery Dinner Trains will depart from Americus in April, June and September. One of the kids’ favorite trips, Day Out With Thomas (the Tank), will take place over three weekends in June. There are also holiday-themed train events with hot chocolate, cookies and a tour of Ole Saint Nick.
Visitors can stay in a fairytale castle at the 1892 Windsor Hotel, an impressive five-storey Victorian-Moorish architectural masterpiece. No two rooms are identical. Sit in a rocking chair on the veranda and enjoy live music every Friday night. Dine at Rosemary & Thyme or have a drink and aperitif at Floyd’s pub. Ask about the 45-minute African-American and Haunted History Tour or take a guided walking tour.
There is much more to do in Americus and Sumter County. Enjoy tastings at a distillery and winery and a satisfying array of sweets, snacks, and restaurants. Shop for organic produce and local antiques, unique clothing and blown glass artwork. Catch a performance at the ornate Rylander Theatre, carefully restored and refurbished from its early days as a vaudeville theater into a modern venue with its own troupe and host of concerts and additional plays. Reflect on war and peace at Andersonville National Historic Site, Village, and the National Prisoners of War Museum.
For more ideas, contact the Americus Welcome Center at (229) 928-6059 or go to www.VisitAmericaGA.com.