WTXL Road Trip: History of Valdosta, Georgia

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 21, 2014
and last updated 2015-04-15 07:18:16-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) -- Valdosta is the second most populated city in our area with nearly 60,000 residents. But how did this city spring up on the map and grow so fast since it was founded more than 150 years ago?

Donald Davis, a historian at the Lowndes County Historical Society, says it comes down to the leadership, "They were a developing community. And I’m sure, trying to have things that would be here, hopefully, permanently that would give the town a solid economic base.”

Mr. Davis attributes the success and growth of Valdosta mainly to the railroad. Such as the connector to Macon and the Florida-Georgia Line, which was built back in the 1890s, “From getting the train to come here, the U.S. Highways came through, and then the interstate.”

 Valdosta quickly turned into the crossroads of south central Georgia once the city founded Valdosta State University back in 1906. And it became even more of a draw after Moody Air Force Base was built in 1940. Davis says, "I think because the college, the base have brought so many different people here, we find ourselves able to tell national and international stories just out of our local history.”

For instance, back in April of 1980 when Valdosta High School alum Lynn McIntosh was killed attempting a rescue mission in the Iran Hostage Crisis. Molly Huckaby graduated with McIntosh and was killed in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing while working for the CIA. Davis says it's heroes like this that make Valdostans proud to live here. "They have all been keen to trying to keep the community at a successful pace.”