The City of Valdosta  was incorporated in 1860 along the route of the Savannah, Albany and Gulf Railroad, and the railroad has continued to contribute to the economic vitality of the area.
European settlers first began to appear in Lowndes County around 1821, and by 1825, the county had been sectioned off from larger Irwin County to the north. The first county seat was located at Franklinville, a few miles east of Hahira, but the town was unsuccessful. By 1833, the county seat was moved to Lowndesville, near Ousley, but this location similarly failed. Troupville was formed in 1837, and the new location of the county seat became an important town within the region, as well as a major stop on the route to Florida.
Although the residents of Troupville had invested in the Savannah, Albany and Gulf Railroad stock in order to assure their inclusion within the route, in 1859 the railroad laid out the new line four miles to the south of town. The enterprising citizens determined that the best solution to this problem was simply to move the entire town south to the railroad line. Valdosta, the name of the new town, was derived from Val de Osta Plantation in Laurens County, which had been owned by the Troup family and maintained the connection to their name and the earlier town.
The first train ran through Valdosta in July 1860, and the town was incorporated as the county seat in December of 1860. By 1870, the census revealed that Valdosta already had a population of 166 people, indicating that the town had grown quickly. The railroad allowed Valdosta to develop as a regional trading center, specializing in the long-staple Sea Island cotton.
Two more railroad lines, the Georgia Southern&Florida and the Atlantic, Valdosta&Western, were constructed through Valdosta in 1889 and 1896, respectively, and represented Valdosta's growing importance as the major exchange for Sea Island cotton. By 1900, the population of Valdosta had reached over 5,600 people, and the city had begun several major improvement projects, including a public transportation system in 1899 and bricking the streets in 1903.
The boll weevil destroyed the cotton crop and decimated the Valdosta economy in 1917, but the region's farmers soon turned to other crops, including pecans, peanuts, tobacco and pine trees. The population of the city continued to grow, and Moody Air Field (now Moody Air Force Base) opened in 1941, bringing over 3,000 military personnel to the city. From the 1940s to the 1980s, much of the growth within Valdosta was located within suburban areas, and many important buildings within the downtown area were lost to demolition. Since the 1980s, Valdosta's historic downtown has been undergoing a revitalization that continues today.
Agriculture and forestry continue to be major contributors to the local economy, but the city also includes several major corporations as well as Valdosta State University, a regional branch of the state university system.
Valdosta as described in 1940 
Valdosta, seat of Lowndes County, is one of the most prosperous small cities of Georgia. A railroad center with seven branch lines of three systems, it has extensive railroad shops. Other industrial establishments include cotton mills, machine shops, feed mills, peanut shelling plants, fertilizer works, saw mills, planing mills and a barrel factory.
Many of Valdosta's houses have white columns and broad verandas in the old southern style, with later additions of porte cocheres, bay windows and octagonal turrets. In the newer sections are brightly colored Spanish mission type bungalows in groves of oak, pine and palmetto. In this hospitable, informal city, sports are popular, and the country club, with its tennis courts and golf course, is the center of social life. The well-wooded countryside affords excellent hunting and 85 clear water lakes within easy driving distance provide abundant water sports. Although the town is not a winter resort, it is becoming increasingly popular as a stopping place for travelers on the way to Florida.
Before 1860 the county seat, about four miles west of the present site, was called Troupville in honor of Governor George M. Troup. When the right-of-way of the first railroad through this section was surveyed, the engineers left Troupville off the route. The citizens lost no time in moving to the railroad, and since they wished to honor the Governor still further, they named the new town for his estate Val d'Osta.
Georgia State Womans College, Patterson Street, conducts classes in five white stucco buildings of the Spanish mission type of architecture; the 60 acres campus is wooded with groves of pines. Opened in 1913, this institution at first offered only 2 years of study, but soon arrangements were made for a 4-year college course and the conferring of the A.B. Degree. The school has an enrollment of about 340 and a faculty of 22.