The Plains Train Depot (Plains, Georgia)

Plains Train Depot
Photo by Judy Baxter

The Plains Train Depot, more commonly just known as the Plains Depot is the oldest building in Plains, Georgia and served the community of Plains as a freight and passenger depot until 1951 when passenger service was discontinued. Constructed in 1890, the Depot served the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and was detrimental to the development of Plains, a rural southern community.

When the trains stopped passenger service in Plains the depot was closed and leased to a variety of businesses, one of which was the Carter Peanut Warehouse who leased the building in the early 1970s. In 1975 as Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign was beginning to take shape, the depot would once again be called into service. This time however it was not to host travelers or store freshly harvested peanuts, but as a presidential campaign headquarters. The depot campaign headquarters, operated by Carter’s friends and family members soon took on the role of hosting the approximately 10,000 people a day that came to Plains in order to meet Carter himself and to learn more about the small town candidate. The depot in its own way became a physical representation of Jimmy Carter and his southern, small-town roots.

After Carter won the presidential election in 1976, he celebrated the victory at the Plains Train Depot, and when he lost his re-election bid in 1980 it was the place he went to thank supporters and commiserate with the like-minded and broken-hearted. And since serving as Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign headquarters, the Plains Train Depot has become a rallying place and a central location for celebrations of local and state primary victories.

On July 26, 1986 the Depot was donated by the CSX Corporation (formerly Seaboard Railroad) to the Plains Historic Preservation Trust and they in turn donated it to the National Park Service on February 31, 1988. The Depot now offers a self-guided tours of the museum featuring exhibits focused on Jimmy Carter’s campaigns for state senator, governor of Georgia, and subsequently his successful 1976 presidential campaign.

The wood-framed building with its board and batten and lap siding is now part of a larger collection of historic sites. The Plains Train Depot, Jimmy Carter’s Boyhood Home, Plains High School, and the Carter Compound complete the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and are all frequently visited by tourists.

Despite Plains, Georgia being the birthplace of the 39th president of the United States, it is still a rural southern town. And though democratic politics have deep roots in the city, it is still very focused on three things that make the south a special place for the Carters, church, family, and service.

Visiting the Plains Depot

  • The Depot is open daily from 9:00am – 4:30pm.
  • Admission and on-site Parking are Free.
  • Maps & Brochures are available for self-guided tours.
  • Admission is free.

Plains Train Depot Facts

  • The Plains Depot is the oldest building in Plains and was constructed in 1890.
  • The Depot was the Presidential Campaign Headquarters for Jimmy Carter starting in 1975.
  • Passenger service through Plains stopped in 1951 and the train depot was closed.
  • The Depot is located in the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site at the northwest corner of Hudson and Main streets.
  • The address is 100 West Main St, Plains, GA 31780.
  • The Depot is owned and operated by the United States Department of Interior, National Park Service.