The SAM train made its first public trip from Cordele through Leslie, Americus, and Plains to Archery on October 26th, 2002. That run capped two years of planning and fulfilled the desire of former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn to maintain the prosperity of their hometown of Plains.
Since that inaugural run, the SAM has contributed millions of dollars in economic stimulus to the area. Despite social distancing in 2021, which reduced the passenger load, the train hosted 17,000 riders. According to the Georgia tourism calculator, that translates to a total economic impact of more than two and a half million dollars.
In addition to the weekly trips to Plains, there have been numerous special trains this year, including the murder mystery dinner trains, wine and cheese tasting trains, Thomas the Tank Engine, and now the anniversary specials. In just the last year, the train has been painted, the interior of several cars renovated, and kitchen capabilities improved.
The Authority, which operates the state-owned train, recognizes the hard work of hundreds of local and state leaders, volunteers, and citizens during the week of special events.
In addition to an October 26th cake cutting commemorating the actual birthday, a dinner gala will be held on Saturday, October 29th. The funds raised from the event will be used to restore the historic Samuel H. Hawkins car. Halloween passengers will also ride that train to Plains for trunk-or-treat.
More information is available at www.samshortline.com.