Top, left to right: Charlton County Courthouse, Folkston Funnel, Folkston Train Museum, City Hall, Downtown Folkston, Okefenokee Swamp
|Motto: "Gateway to the Okefenokee"|
Location in Charlton County and the state of Georgia
|• Total||4.2 sq mi (10.9 km2)|
|• Land||4.2 sq mi (10.9 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|• Density||990/sq mi (382.1/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID|||
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.
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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  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.(30.834437, -82.004829).
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
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).
Charlton County School District
The Charlton County School District holds grades pre-school to grade twelve. It consists of three elementary schools, a high school, and a private school. The district has 114 full-time teachers and over 2,015 students.
- Folkston Elementary School - Pre-K to 3rd grade
- Bethune Middle School (named after Mary McLeod Bethune) - 4th to 8th grade
- St. George Elementary School
- Charlton County High School - 9th to 12th grade
- Christian Academy - Pre-K to 12th grade
- Champ Bailey, former All-Pro cornerback of the National Football League
- Boss Bailey, linebacker who played in the National Football League, born in Folkston
- Canadian cannabis activist Marc Emery was serving a five-year prison sentence at D. Ray James Correctional Institution in Folkston before he was transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
- "City of Folkston Georgia Website". City of Folkston Georgia Website. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Folkston". Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Profile for Folkston, Georgia, GA". ePodunk. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Folkston city, Georgia (revision of 02-23-2012)". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Watching freight trains can be a fascinating afternoon (The Inn at Folkston)
- The Folkston Funnel: Trainwatcher's Page
- Georgia Board of Education[permanent dead link], Retrieved June 3, 2010.
- School Stats, Retrieved June 3, 2010.
- "Champ Bailey". NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Boss Bailey". NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Marc Scott Emery." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on January 10, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Folkston, Georgia.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Folkston.|
- City of Folkston official website
- Folkston, Georgia, at City-Data.com
- The Folkston Funnel
- Charlton County Herald, local newspaper
- Folkston Junction, Florida Times-Union article
- Folkston at Georgia.gov
- Charlton County Schools