SAM Shortline

Bruce and Sara---2008
SAM Shortline
January 2008 to April 2008 (?)

The Sam Shortline is a Georgia State Park and Historic Site located in Cordele, Georgia.(It's website is The SAM Shortline State Park

For many years former President Jimmy Carter and other residents of Plains, Georgia and some of the surrounding towns had dreamed about a passenger train which could bring visitors to Plains and Americus, Georgia, and introduce them to a part of Georgia not often visited. Eventually lobbying effots and a lot of hard work resulted in the creation of the Southwest Georgia Railroad Excursion Authority in 2000, and the beginnings of the SAM Shortline State Park.

"Managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the SAM Shortline's trains are operated by two qualified Heart of Georgia Railroad engineers/conductors, a qualified volunteer SAM conductor and trainman, and a staff of volunteer car hosts and commissary car workers...Most of the passenger cars were purchased from the Maryland Area Rapid Commuter Agency and were originally Budd stainless steel sleepers of Norfold Western and Pennsylvania Railroad heritage." (from a short history by Lee Kinnamon)

The SAM Shortline Route
The SAM Depot in Cordele, GA

Essentially the SAM Shortline is a "rolling park"---the cars are stored and maintained on a small spur that is located within the Georgia Veterns Memorial State Park along the shores of Lake Blackshear just outside Cordele, GA. The excursions go from Cordele, GA to

  • Leslie (home of the famous Georiga Rural Telephone Museum),
  • Americus (home of the international headquarters of Habitat for Humanity),
  • Plains (where former president Jimmy Carter lives) and
  • Archery (where Jimmy Carter was raised).
...and then the train returns to Cordele.

In addition to the train cars, the SAM Shortline State Park maintains a depot in Cordele where tickets and souvenoirs are sold, where the offices of the park superindentent are located, and where most people board the train. During the month of January and the first part of February, volunteers and staff work on the train and repairing them...and work at the depot to get it ready for another season.

Sara working hard in the commissary car---cleaning!
Sara and SAM

So far, we've been spending most of our volunteer days working at the depot---moving and setting up new shelves and displays, unpacking and putting out clothing and souvenirs, and helping the full-time staff get the depot ready for the regular season which begins the middle of February. In fact, SAM Shortline only has a handful of full-time employees and relies on help from volunteers who come from all over the country! The volunteers work as conductors, trainmen, car hosts, and commissary workers.

Abbey and Julie
part of the dedicated staff at SAM
(Abbey heads up the "retail" sales, and
Julie Carr is responsible for all the volunteers (in other workds, she's our boss!!)
New friends, Harley and Joanne Sheffields,
setting up toy displays in the depot
....something we've all spent hours doing!
Opal Woodson (one of the permanent employees of the SAM Shortline)
trying to help us figure out where to put all the new retail stuff!

Starting the end of February, the train finally began its regular schedule. On the first day, our "job" was to be "car hosts" meaning we welcomed visitors to the train and onto our particular train car, answered questions, helped them get settled. And then as the train went from town to town, we would pass out literature about the upcoming area, try to help passengers anticipate what they could see or do in the next town, and remind them of how long we would be stopping (often an hour or more) and of when next departure time would be.

The SAM Shortline Train on our first day in Plains.
Joe and Alice Hammond
---volunteers from Indiana
The Sheffields again showing off our typical "car hosts" uniforms!

A typical day involves getting down to the train at 7:30 AM, going to Cordele to pick up most of the passengers, and then back to the park, and onto Leslie, Americus, Plains and Archery, and then back home. We finally get back to our campground and the SAM siding around 6 PM---a long day!

And so we are busy. We are having fun.

Our "Not Ready for Prime Time SAM Ensemble Orchestra"
part of our evening campground entertainment!
The "Not Ready for Prime Time SAM Ensemble Orchestra"
is one of the only orchestras currently active in the Georgia State Park system!

Our friends "Bear" aka Sam and Trainman Marybeth Kelly
our volunteers and friends from Cape Hatteras who told us about the SAM Shortline
The last car and a view of our Pursuit from the train.
Our "campground" is right above where the train is kept and we can walk to "work"!

Bruce and Sara 2008---Opening Page

Jan to April 2008---The SAM Shortline in Cordele, GA

April 1st to April 13, 2008---Driving from GA to Big Bend NP, TX

April 14st to April 23, 2008---Driving from Big Bend NP,TX to Mesa Verde NP

April 24 to May 4, 2008---Snow in Yellowstone, a Change in Plans, and a Detour to Zion NP

May 4 to May 11, 2008---From Zion NP to Salt Lake City and Glacier, and then to Canada

May 12 to May 16, 2008---Kootenay, Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks Yoho)

May 16 to May 25, 2008---The Alaskan Highway---From Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Skagway, Alaska

May 25 to June 7, 2008---Southeast Alaska--Skagway, Sitka, Juneau, and Haines

June 8 to June 21, 2008---Haines Junction, Fairbanks, and Denali

June 22 to July 4, 2008---The Kenai Peninsula: Portgage, Seward, and Homer

July 5 to July 22, 2008---Whittier, Anchorage, Palmer, Valdez Prince William Sound and Wrangell-St. Elias NP

July 23 to July 28, 2008---Driving Down the Cassier Highay: Steward and Hyder

July 29 to August 14, 2008---Driving Home after 13,600 Miles

Working on the train can be exhausting...
and by the end of the day
many of the staff and volunteers are ready for a nap!
(MJ is a very regular and helpful volunteer
who works in the commissary car all day!)
The total moon eclipse of February 20,2008
Bruce and Sara standing
in front of the new shirt display.

If you want to write to or contact Bruce and Sara, their email addresses are: and/or

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