In 1838, the first railroad station west of Savannah was named for Robert William Pooler. William W. Gordon, president of Central of Georgia Railroad, named the station for Pooler as a reward for the difficult and tedious work he had completed on a feasibility study to determine the route that the railroad would take through various Georgia towns and counties.
Neither man could know that on December 9, 1864, General William T. Sherman and his troops would make camp beside that very railroad station in preparation for their siege of Savannah. At that time, less than 200 people lived in the isolated and impoverished Pooler community
As the South recovered from the Reconstruction era, a visionary Pooler resident, Ben Rothwell, bought several hundred acres in the community. He pioneered a new method of community development, giving lots to those who would build permanent homes.
Dan Newton, another visionary, built the first Baptist Church in what is now Gleason Park. He also built a Presbyterian Church and donated lumber for Trinity Methodist Church. A sawmill was built to supply lumber and a brickyard established to supply other needs. Today, remains of the brickyard can be located near the railroad tracks just south of I-95.
Pooler had a population of just 337 when it incorporated in 1907. The first Pooler Town Hall was built in 1923. That building was sold to the town of Register, Georgia when a new town hall was constructed in the 1960’s. Register restored the building that now serves as its town hall and police department headquarters. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places
Dairies played an important role in Pooler’s economy and were abundant in the community. At one time, there were 15 dairies operating in the area.
Through the years, many other businesses established in Pooler including a theater, soda fountain shop, drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations, auto repair shops, five and dime store,
post office and, of course, the train depot.
There was a bus station served by Greyhound, Southeastern Stages and Trailways. A business that was established in 1927 is still in operation
today: Shearouse Sawmill and Lumber Company.
In 1928, paving of U.S. Highway 80 through Pooler was completed by the federal government, making it easier for Pooler residents to go into Savannah for many of their shopping needs.
In the 1950s, major structural changes took place in Pooler. The post office moved from the train depot to a site on Highway 80 and dependence on rail service decreased. This eventually led to the abandonment of railroad tracks through Pooler. The railroad tracks were removed to make way for Highway 80 eastbound traffic. The original Highway 80 was designated for westbound traffic.
In 1956, construction began on Interstate 95 that would eventually stretch from Maine to Miami and touch the edge of Pooler. The interchange at I-95 and Highway 80 and I-95 and Pooler Parkway is now a major site for businesses that cater to the tourist industry.
In the 1960s, a new town hall and community center were built on Rogers
Street. A fire station, constructed on the site of the old train depot, is still on operation today. The first subdivision, Gleason Heights, was developed andWest Chatham Library built.
Pooler’s growth was slow and steady through the 70s and 80s, remaining a small, proud community.
In the 1990s, the sleepy pace of the small town changed. Forward thinking city officials conducted well thought out annexation, contributing to a strong tax base for Pooler.
In 1996, the National Museum of The Mighty Eighth Air Force opened its 90,000 sq. ft. facility near I-95 and Highway 80 in Pooler. J.C. Bamford (JCB) Company built a 500,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility and a mega site at I-95 and I-16 has been developed. Mitsubishi Power Systems recently started operations at a portion of the mega-site. This is all within Pooler’s city limits.
The growth along Pooler Parkway has been tremendous over the last several years. Having to drive into “town” (Savannah) has become a thing of the past. Pooler, Georgia has everything to offer to its residents, its businesses….and its visitors.
Pooler now boasts many entertainment spots, a huge array of restaurants, both locally owned and national chains, shopping galore, recreation at its best…not to mention some of the best medical facilities in this part of the state.
What more could you ask for? Home town feel? Even with all its growth, Pooler still offers a serene, secure and affordable small town atmosphere for families and businesses.