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Folkston, Georgia
Top, left to right: Charlton County Courthouse, Folkston Funnel, Folkston Train Museum, City Hall, Downtown Folkston, Okefenokee Swamp
Top, left to right: Charlton County Courthouse, Folkston Funnel, Folkston Train Museum, City Hall, Downtown Folkston, Okefenokee Swamp
"Gateway to the Okefenokee"
Location in Charlton County and the state of Georgia
Location in Charlton County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
Counties Charlton
 • Total 4.2 sq mi (10.9 km2)
 • Land 4.2 sq mi (10.9 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
 • Total 4,148
 • Density 990/sq mi (382.1/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 912
City Hall in Folkston, GA, US
City Hall

Folkston is a city in and the county seat of Charlton County, Georgia, United States. The population was 4,148 as of the 2010 census, up from 2,178 in 2000, largely due to the extension of the city boundary to include D. Ray James Prison.


Folkston was founded on August 19, 1911. The city was named in honor of William Brandon Folks, M.D., a prominent physician and surgeon in his day. In the years 1925 - 1927, many new and commodious residences were built and several modern brick buildings were erected, including the Citizen Bank Block, the Masonic Temple building, a grammar-school building, and a courthouse. Shortly after its creation, the village of Folkston was incorporated as a town government and functioned as a town until 1911 when the area was incorporated as a city. For a number of years, Folkston was the self-proclaimed "Marriage Capital of the World;" Floridians who could not endure their state's waiting period before tying the knot would cross the state line to wed.


Folkston is located near the southern boundary of Georgia at 30°50′4″N 82°0′17″W / 30.83444°N 82.00472°W / 30.83444; -82.00472 (30.834437, -82.004829). U.S. Routes 1, 23, and 301 pass through the city as Second Street, leading south 42 miles (68 km) to Jacksonville, Florida. Route 1 and 23 lead northwest 35 miles (56 km) to Waycross, while Route 301 leads north 55 miles (89 km) to Jesup. The eastern entrance to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is 11 miles (18 km) southwest of Folkston via GA 23 and GA 121.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Folkston has a total area of 4.2 square miles (10.9 km2), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 167
1910 355 112.6%
1920 397 11.8%
1930 506 27.5%
1940 1,024 102.4%
1950 1,515 47.9%
1960 1,810 19.5%
1970 2,112 16.7%
1980 2,243 6.2%
1990 2,285 1.9%
2000 2,178 −4.7%
2010 2,502 14.9%
Est. 2015 5,247 109.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,502 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 50.0% Black, 45.4% White, 0.1% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.0% from some other race and 2.3% from two or more races. 1.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 2,178 people, 817 households, and 548 families residing in the city. The population density was 605.7 people per square mile (233.6/km²). There were 976 housing units at an average density of 271.4 per square mile (104.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 46.14% White; 51.52% African American; 0.18% Native American. 0.41% Asian; 0.05% Pacific Islander; 0.18% from other races, and 1.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.87% of the population.

There were 817 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 41.6% were married couples living together; 21.9% had a female householder with no husband present; and 32.9% were non-families. 29.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the city, the population was spread out with 29.0% under the age of 18; 8.9% from 18 to 24; 26.4% from 25 to 44; 20.5% from 45 to 64; and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 82.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $21,840, and the median income for a family was $32,375. Males had a median income of $26,302 versus $19,816 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,653. About 26.1% of families and 28.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.8% of those under age 18 and 20.4% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Folkston Funnel

With virtually all rail traffic headed to Florida passing through Folkston, the rail lines through the city have acquired the nickname "The Folkston Funnel." As many as 65 trains a day pass through Folkston heading into and out of Florida, which some years draws ten times as many railfans as people who live in the city. To provide for a safe (and advantageous) viewing situation, the town has followed the example of another high-density rail town, Rochelle, Illinois, and has built a platform for visitors, along with picnic tables, chairs, barbecue pits, restrooms, grills, and even WiFi. At night, lights shine from the platform onto the double track so if someone wanted to, he or she could watch after sunset. Freight trains from the east and northeast arrive via Savannah, go through the Folkston Funnel, and proceed to terminals such as Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami. Freight trains from the midwest arrive via Atlanta or Birmingham and proceed into Florida. Freight trains that originate in Florida take the same routes in opposite direction. In addition, Amtrak's Silver Star, Silver Meteor, and Auto Train pass through the Folkston Funnel, although they do not stop there.

At the covered viewing platform, there is an active scanner running and visitors can listen to train engineers as they run the trains through. There is also free WiFi for visitors.


The Okefenokee Festival is an annual event that occurs the second Saturday of October. The Okefenokee Festival parade usually starts at 11:00 a.m. Spectators and shoppers stroll through an arts and crafts area and sample delicious foods. They can enjoy live local entertainment all day on the back porch of the Depot, and clogging, line dancing, and karate exhibitions are held on Main Street. An annual "Railwatch" is held on the first weekend of April every year (second weekend if Easter falls on the first weekend).

The Charlton County Indians football team has made the playoffs 23 years in a row, with seven championship appearances, and four state championships (1999, 2004, 2005, and 2006).

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