Cordele, Georgia

Cordele is a city in Crisp County, Georgia, United States. The population was 11,147 at the 2010 census.[7] The city is the county seat of Crisp County.[8]

Cordele, Georgia
Cordele City Hall
Cordele City Hall
Watermelon Capital of the World
Gateway to South Georgia[1]
Location in Crisp County and the state of Georgia
Location in Crisp County and the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 31°57′51″N 83°46′38″W / 31.96417°N 83.77722°W / 31.96417; -83.77722Coordinates: 31°57′51″N 83°46′38″W / 31.96417°N 83.77722°W / 31.96417; -83.77722
CountryUnited States
 • Total10.22 sq mi (26.47 km2)
 • Land10.14 sq mi (26.26 km2)
 • Water0.08 sq mi (0.22 km2)
315 ft (96 m)
 • Total11,147
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,037.78/sq mi (400.70/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
31010, 31015
Area code(s)229
FIPS code13-19616[4]
GNIS feature ID0312971[5]

Cordele calls itself the Watermelon Capital of the World.[9]


Cordele was incorporated on January 1, 1888,[6] and named for Cordelia Hawkins, eldest daughter of Colonel Samuel Hawkins, the president of the Savannah, Americus and Montgomery Railway.[10]

In November 1864, the area that is now Cordele served as the temporary capital of Georgia. During the last days of the Confederacy, Georgia's war governor Joseph E. Brown used his rural farmhouse to escape the wrath of Sherman's March to the Sea. During that time the farmhouse, which Brown called "Dooly County Place," served as the official capital for only a few days. It was replaced in 1890 by the Suwanee Hotel, located in what became downtown Cordele. The hotel was destroyed by a fire in late 1994 and was rebuilt.

Cordele was founded in 1888 by J.E.D. Shipp of Americus. The town was located at the junction of two major railroads – the Savannah, Americus & Montgomery line, and the Georgia Southern & Florida. As the railroads brought more people and business to the newly settled territory, Cordele experienced phenomenal growth. Before 1905 Cordele was located in southern Dooly County, 9 miles (14 km) from the county seat in Vienna. With Cordele's continued progress, many in the community felt the need for a seat of government to be closer than Vienna. Crisp County was formed in 1905 by taking a portion of southern Dooly County, and Cordele became its county seat.

By August 1930, Cordele housed the Crisp County Hydroelectric System, the first county-owned electric system. Located on the Flint River, the hydroelectric plant continues to operate, and the resulting Lake Blackshear has attracted residents to its waterfront properties.

On April 2, 1936, a tornado struck Cordele, killing 23 people.


Cordele is located north of the center of Crisp County at 31°57′51″N 83°46′38″W / 31.96417°N 83.77722°W / 31.96417; -83.77722 (31.964178, -83.777277).[11] U.S. Route 41 passes through the city as Seventh Street and leads north 9 miles (14 km) to Vienna and south 20 miles (32 km) to Ashburn. U.S. Route 280 (16th Avenue) crosses US 41 in the center of the city and leads east 29 miles (47 km) to Abbeville and west 31 miles (50 km) to Americus. Interstate 75 passes through the east side of the city, with access from exits 99, 101, and 102, and leads 65 miles (105 km) north to Macon and 103 miles (166 km) south to the Florida state line. State Route 300 leads from the south side of the city 37 miles (60 km) southwest to Albany.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Cordele has a total area of 10.2 square miles (26.5 km2), of which 10.2 square miles (26.3 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.82%, is water.[7]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)10,521[3]−5.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 11,608 people, 4,303 households, and 2,839 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,222.5 people per square mile (471.8/km2). There were 4,782 housing units at an average density of 503.6 per square mile (194.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 31.90% White, 65.03% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.19% from other races, and 0.91% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.95% of the population.

There were 4,303 households, out of which 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 30.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.22.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 31.6% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $17,615, and the median income for a family was $21,677. Males had a median income of $23,253 versus $17,282 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,746. About 38.1% of families and 41.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 59.2% of those under age 18 and 26.7% of those age 65 or over.

Cordele City CommissionersEdit

Five citizens of Cordele are elected to serve as the City Commissioners.

The current Cordele City Commissioners are: Jeanie Bartee, Wesley Rainey, Royce Reeves, Vesta Beal Shephard, and Chairman John Wiggins[13]

Representation in the Georgia State LegislatureEdit

In the Georgia State Senate, the City of Cordele is represented by the 13th district, which is vacant since the death of Greg Kirk on December 22, 2019.[14] In the Georgia House of Representatives, the City of Cordele is represented by Rep. Buddy Harden.

Representation in the United States House of RepresentativesEdit

In the United States House of Representatives, the City of Cordele is represented by Rep. Sanford Bishop.

Georgia Veterans State ParkEdit

Boeing B-29 Superfortress exhibited at Georgia Veterans State Park

To the west of Cordele town centre and located on Route 280 is the large Georgia Veterans State Park, which lies on the eastern edge of Lake Blackshear. This facility provides many outdoor activities for ex members of the US armed services. There are also interesting displays of preserved military aircraft and helicopters and army tanks and other fighting vehicles. These displays are open to public viewing during daylight hours [15]

Arts and cultureEdit

Annual cultural eventsEdit

Cordele hosts an annual Watermelon Festival each June.[16]

Museums and other points of interestEdit

In 1968 a Titan I missile was erected by the Rotary Club of Cordele at the intersection of I-75 and U.S. 280 East.[17]


Cordele is home to Crisp Motorsports Park and the Watermelon Capital Speedway, a 3/8-mile asphalt oval. It is home to the annual pre-season race known as SpeedFest, which is sanctioned by the Champion Racing Association (CRA) organization and run in late January. The event features a 125-lap race for the CRA Jegs All-Star Tour (crate late models) and a 200-lap race for the ARCA/CRA Super Series (super late models).


Crisp County School DistrictEdit

The Crisp County School District holds pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.[18] The district has 266 full-time teachers and over 4,337 students.[19]

  • Crisp County Primary
  • Crisp County pre-k
  • Crisp County Elementary School
  • Crisp County Middle School
  • Crisp County High School


Major highwaysEdit

The Cordele Inland Port is operated by a private company, Cordele Intermodal Services, which offers rail service via the Heart of Georgia Railroad and Georgia Central Railroad, from their rail ramp in Cordele to the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah. Two class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern pass through Cordele. Shortline Railroad, Heart of Georgia currently interchanges with CSX in downtown Cordele.

Notable peopleEdit


  • Ogden, Bob. Aviation Museums and Collections of North America. Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. Tonbridge, Kent. 2007. ISBN 0-85130-385-4.


  1. ^ "City of Cordele Georgia Website". City of Cordele Georgia Website. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ a b "Cordele". Georgia Gov. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Cordele city, Georgia". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  9. ^ City of Cordele official website
  10. ^ Krakow, Kenneth K. (1975). Georgia Place-Names: Their History and Origins (PDF). Macon, GA: Winship Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-915430-00-2.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  13. ^ Cordele City Commissioners
  14. ^ Sen. Greg Kirk
  15. ^ Ogden, p. 221-222
  16. ^ Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-10. Retrieved 2006-07-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Georgia Board of Education[permanent dead link], Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  19. ^ School Stats, Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  20. ^ "Buster Brown". all music. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  21. ^ "Mac Hyman (1923-1963)". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  22. ^ "Joe Williams". all about jazz. Retrieved September 6, 2012.

External linksEdit