A Slight Detour to the Rural Telephone Museum

Rural Telephone Museum
Rural Telephone Museum
Vintage phones from the museum.Would our kids even know what to do with this kind of phone? Imagine if they had to use party lines? Remember the party line? Or being tethered to the wall? You’d wrap yourself up in the long cord walking around the room.

By Sue Rodman
I love surprises. Especially when I travel. Finding that hidden gem, tucked away off the beaten path, you feel like an explorer making a new discovery. Finding the Rural Telephone Museum in Leslie, Ga. was like striking gold.

I’d heard about the Rural Telephone Museum before and it always intrigued me, but never enough to make the drive to southwest Georgia just to see old telephones. However, when an opportunity came to take a ride on the SAM Shortline railroad, a stop in Leslie at the Rural Telephone Museum was what sealed the deal. If you aren’t riding the SAM Shortline, the museum is just 17 miles from Exit 101 on I-75. It’s worth the slight detour.

We exited the train onto a deserted Main Street. If we’d been out west, I would not have been surprised to see tumbleweed blowing. The town consisted of about seven or eight buildings and a model airplane that kids can sit in to take a picture. I’m not sure what the plane has to do with Leslie, but the randomness is part of the charm and that theme continues through the museum as well.

Rural Telephone Museum
In addition to telephones, there is lineman equipment and vintage cars.

Admission to the museum is normally $8, but if you’re riding the SAM Shortline, it’s a discounted price of $3. Museum employees stand outside the door to collect your cash as you walk in. There are no credit card machines. If you aren’t coming on the train, make sure to call first. I’ve heard hours can be somewhat ‘flexible’.

Rural Telephone Museum
Do your kids know what this is? Find Lilly Tomlin’s telephone lady skit on YouTube before you go and they might understand.

The Rural Telephone Museum is the biggest attraction in Leslie, and in fact, the building that houses the museum is probably bigger than the town itself. As you’d expect there are lots of antique telephones dating back as far as Alexander Graham Bell’s first model. There are also huge switchboards, telephone lines and lineman tools. There is also a nautical room and an Indian display. Remember that randomness I was talking about?

Rural Telephone Museum
Part of what I love about this museum is the randomness. What do Creek Indians have to do with antique telephones? There’s a cool display of arrow heads as well and a nautical room.
Rural Telephone Museum
Before your phone remembered everyone’s number, there was a thing called the phone book. This is one of the earliest versions – could you imagine typing all those listings?

The museum is the private collection of Tommy Smith, who owns the Citizen’s Telephone Company which services the area. If you look closely, you’ll see Tommy has a lot more items not even on display yet. The American Pickers from the History Channel would go nuts sifting through the boxes beyond the displays.

This entire museum made me smile. It’s a wonderful history lesson, and an amazing gift to the community from one of it’s residents. The randomness, from the displays to the hours is part of what makes this museum so much fun and well worth the detour. I understand they’re making some changes to upgrade the museum, which is great, but I hope they don’t do too much. That quirkiness adds to the fun in my opinion.

What: Rural Telephone Museum
Where:  135 N Bailey Ave, Leslie, GA 31764 |  (229) 874-4786
When: Call to confirm hours of operation
Cost: $8 per person, $3 if you are on the SAM Shortline train

Rural Telephone Museum
Welcome to Leslie, Ga. Home of the Rural Telephone Museum, and this little police plane. Which is here because….


Rural Telephone Museum
I like the sign for the sportsmen.
Rural Telephone Museum
In addition to old telephones, the museum has an impressive collection of old cars too!


Rural Telephone Museum
This sign amused me. When was the last time you talked to an operator?





About Sue Rodman 174 Articles
Sue Rodman is the mom of 3 boys and publishes Field Trips with Sue, an award winning family travel blog about the Southeast and fun places to visit from the Southeast, covering outings, day trips, weekend getaways and family vacations. Field Trips with Sue is a Nickelodeon Parent’s Pick Winner, a Red Tricycle Best Family Travel Blog and a Parents.com best blog nominee. Sue has been interviewed on Family Travel in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Northside Neighbor, Publix Magazine, and on all three major networks. For four years, Sue produced a Field Trips with Sue travel segment for CBS Better Mornings Atlanta, and has filled in for the host of WXIA Friday Freebies. Sue offers inside information about must-see Atlanta attractions and more in her popular book “100+ Free Things to do in Atlanta.”

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