Worth County, Sylvester. (file photo)
Worth County, Georgia’s 18th-largest county in land area, was created in 1853 from parts of Dooly and Irwin counties. It was named for Maj. Gen. William Worth, a hero of the Mexican War.
“Ole Engine 100” is a steam locomotive that ran the rails of the Georgia-Ashburn Sylvester-Camilla Railways from 1930 to 1948, when it was replaced with the next generation of train, the diesel. In 1957, “The Little Engine That Could” was donated to the Worth County/Sylvester Chamber of Commerce and the city of of Sylvester by GASC railways for a well deserved rest. It now sits under a protective awning in J.C. Jeffords Park at U.S. Highway 82 and Georgia State Route 33.
Called the “Peanut Capital of the World,” Worth County is a consistent Georgia leader in peanut production, typically planting some 35,000 acres yearly.
Sylvester is the county seat and hosts the Georgia Peanut Festival on the third weekend in October, sponsored in part by ConAgra Foods, whose Sylvester plant makes every jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter.
Besides peanuts, in 2011 Worth County farmers planted more than 57,000 acres of cotton and nearly 8,000 acres of corn.
Around 50 percent of Worth County is forested, and pulpwood manufacturer Weyerhauser is the county’s largest taxpayer.
Sixty percent of Worth’s work force commutes to other counties to work, but its largest local employers are ConAgra Foods, Birdsong Peanuts, Sylvester Health Care, Phoebe Worth Medical Center and the Worth County Board of Education.
Worth County has an estimated 2012 population of 21,741.
Incorporated in 1898, the city of Sylvester sprung up along a railroad built to connect Albany with Brunswick. Originally known as Isabella Station, the name was changed to honor a prominent local family.
The early town was a rail stop and center for processing wood products such as turpentine. In 1904 an election was held, and Sylvester wrenched the title of county seat from Isabella, three miles to the north.
Halfway between Albany and Tifton on U.S. Highway 82, Sylvester today is home to about 6,000 residents.
Worth County’s easternmost municipality is also its fastest growing. In 2000, Sumner’s population was 309, but now is home to more than 600. Sumner, which has been around for 131 years, hosts an annual egg festival in September.
The city of Warwick is located 20 miles north of Sylvester near the shores of Lake Blackshear. Its population has hovered at slightly less than 500 for more than 20 years. Warwick has been named the Grits Capital of Georgia and in March 2003, Gov. Sonny Perdue recognized Warwick as the Grits Capital of the World. The town hosts the National Grits Festival the second week of April each year.
Hardly a mile east along U.S. 82 from Sylvester, the city of Poulan is the county’s second-largest municipality with a population that has grown gradually over the last 20 years to around 1,000. Michigan Gov. Chase S. Osbourne, who made his winter home in Poulan in the early 1900s, built the famous Big Poke and Little Poke mansions on Possum Lane. The mansions are now tourist attractions in the area.