Toomsboro, GA

Toomsboro, GA [Wilkinson County]

Toomsboro is located in the heart of Georgia on a railroad line that crosses the kaolin country between Sandersville and Macon. Once a booming little railroad town, it has an almost ghost town feel today - the general store, opera house, hotel and depot sit quietly in the hot Georgia sun silent reminders of the hustle and bustle that once characterized this town.

The Swampland Opera House, seen in the background of the photo aboe, was built in 1916, and originally housed a dry goods store and a bank. In 1975, Joe Boone, Jr. started the Swampland Opera House as a weekend venue for musicians throughout the southeast and each Saturday until 2000, a country, gospel & bluegrass music fest was held here. The building features a stage with theater seating, a restaurant, vintage bank with vault and a second-story loft with elevator access. The loft area was used as a movie theatre at one time.
The Murray Hall General Store and gas station was built before the Civil War, and was originally a whiskey store. Mr. Hall's sister taught first grade in Toombsboro for several decades. The store is locked up but according to locals still contains a good amount of original merchandise. There were plans to offer public tours to the store as part of the "Wilkinson Weekends" project, but I am not sure these plans ever materialized.


The Willett Hotel was built in the 1800s and has recently been completely restored. It features 16 rooms and 14 baths, refinished hardwood floors throughout, new central heat and air, high ceilings, extensive woodwork and many other vintage features. It was part of the Toomsboro package that was for sale a few years ago for only $ 695,000 according to some sources and a more realistic figure of 6,950,000 according to others.

The hotel was quite busy in the early years of its existence, when Toomsboro was an important railroad stop and had a lively economy. This is where mainly traveling salesmen and newly arrived teachers stayed.

The Central of Georgia Railroad line connecting Savannah and Macon County was built between 1835-1843. When the road was being surveyed, the citizens of Irwinton did not want it to run through their town for fear that the trains would run over all their livestock and children - the same reluctance, or hindsight, could be seen in Oglethorpe County's towns of Maxeys and Lexington. Irwinton, the Wilkinson County seat, was thus by-passed by the railroad; smaller stations along the road were originally known by their numbers such as 15, 16, and 17, standing for Emmitt, Wriley and Gordon respectively.

At first, there was no station at Toomsboro, with station 15 (Emmitt) only one mile to the east. Toomsboro emerged later; the first post office was established in 1859 and the town was incorporated in 1904. Today, Toomsboro has a population of 619 (2007). Trains, long ones at that, still pass through, but they no longer stop. This Norfolk Southern railroad line runs from Savannah to Millen to Tennille, through Toomsboro to Gordon and Macon, then from Macon to Columbus where it curves north and dead-ends in Greenville (GA).

14 comments:

  1. This is fantastic. I lived in Milledgeville in the late 70s/early 80s and we would drive over to "Swampland" on Saturday nights for fried fish dinners and awesome bluegrass/gospel shows. Great memories. Nice photos and info...thanks!

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  2. Flannery O'Connor directly references Toomsboro in her classic short story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Worth a movie set or two, indeed! Long live Toomsboro!

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  3. Ummm....anybody talk to Dolly parton about this? She may like an idea like this...Imagine a new Dukes of hazard being filmed here? yeah buddy!

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  4. Who can sell a town? Who gets paid? How was the cost determined? Wow! This is bizarre!

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  5. Toomsboro sure looks to be in great condition...for as old as it is. Maybe a railroad spur could be built closer to town to expedite visitors from Macon and elsewhere? Once in a while I get over and down that way, (Valdosta), and next time I will go see Toomsboro.

    Somehow this little burg captures the imagination. It would be great if "NativeGates" idea about Dolly Parton took hold. I will pray that it does.

    I will say this about the towns folks and owner: They sure have taken good care of this treasure. Well done folks and good luck on making Toomsboro a profitable enterprise. But please! Don't get too greedy about it.

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  6. What are they selling Toomsboro for.JOHNNY

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  7. Oh goodness and now the whole town is for sale. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/town-700-residents-sale-georgia-192751214.html

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  9. Its only 85acres for sale. Which is just 1/3 of Toomsboro. Many people have lived there and worked hard to pay for their homes which they own and are not for sale. So no, its not the whole town. This guy can't sell the whole town because he doesn't own it all.

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  10. I discovered the town of Toomsboro when I was an undergraduate student at Mercer University in Macon, GA in 1993. I fell in love with the town and did a photo essay on the town for one of my photography classes. There is so much character in that little town & it was so easy to capture some amazing photos there!

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  11. Nice photos. My husband has had a custom cabinet shop in downtown Toomsboro for more than 20 years. He has always said, "he's the best kept secret in Toomsboro".

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  12. I would love to live in Toomsboro Ga. Would love to reopen the store and even a resturant. Do they have children, schools, theaters, things for families to do? I live in a small town now and am looking for a change to raise my grandchildren in a great place. Give a shout out to me. 615-210-7142

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    1. i think the same thing, I was looking to keep the old character, and restaurant, and hotel, and travel and tourism. People are always looking for nice places to have weddings or parties, and you can use items from locals to sell in store. were can we find the information?

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