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Cordele, Georgia
Cordele City Hall
Cordele City Hall
Watermelon Capital of the World
Gateway to South Georgia
Location in Crisp County and the state of Georgia
Location in Crisp County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
County Crisp
 • Total 10.51 sq mi (27.21 km2)
 • Land 10.42 sq mi (26.99 km2)
 • Water 0.08 sq mi (0.22 km2)
315 ft (96 m)
 • Total 10,220
 • Density 980.62/sq mi (378.61/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
31010, 31015
Area code(s) 229
FIPS code 13-19616
GNIS feature ID 0312971

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

Cordele calls itself the Watermelon Capital of the World.


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

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 persons.


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). 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.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,578
1900 3,473 120.1%
1910 5,883 69.4%
1920 6,538 11.1%
1930 6,880 5.2%
1940 7,929 15.2%
1950 9,462 19.3%
1960 10,609 12.1%
1970 10,733 1.2%
1980 11,184 4.2%
1990 10,321 −7.7%
2000 11,608 12.5%
2010 11,147 −4.0%
2020 10,220 −8.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Cordele racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 2,601 25.45%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 6,816 66.69%
Native American 6 0.06%
Asian 156 1.53%
Pacific Islander 4 0.04%
Other/Mixed 304 2.97%
Hispanic or Latino 333 3.26%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 10,220 people, 3,874 households, and 2,453 families residing in the city.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Cordele hosts an annual Watermelon Festival each June.

Museums and other points of interest

Titan I Cordele, GA
Titan I on display in Cordele

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.


Crisp County School District

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

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


Major highways

  • I-75.svg Interstate 75 / SR 401
  • US 41.svg U.S. Route 41 / Georgia 7.svg State Route 7
  • US 280.svg U.S. Route 280 / Georgia 30.svg State Route 30
  • Georgia 33.svg State Route 33
  • Georgia 90.svg State Route 90
  • Georgia 257.svg State Route 257
  • Georgia 300.svg State Route 300 (Georgia-Florida Parkway)

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 people

  • Buster Brown, blues and R&B singer born in Cordele
  • Preston Dennard, former wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams
  • Mac Hyman, fiction writer known for his best-selling novel No Time for Sergeants and Take Now Thy Son; born in Cordele and a lifelong resident
  • T. J. Jackson, Olympian and NFL wide receiver
  • Marcus Lamb, president of international Christian TV network Daystar
  • Deworski Odom, sprinter; born in Cordele
  • Jody Powell, served as the White House Press Secretary under President Jimmy Carter; born in Cordele
  • Andre Ramsey, offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills
  • Tree Rollins, former NBA basketball player and Cordele native who attended Crisp County High School
  • Joe Williams, jazz singer and Cosby Show grandfather; born in Cordele
  • Noel Williams Jr. - Insurance agent and politician.

Images for kids

See also

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