You don’t have to look far to find something to do in Warner Robins, Georgia. Here you’ll encounter a deep history of hometown tradition and high-quality craftsmanship, complete with a hardworking labor force that has powered America’s military for decades.
A lot has changed since Warner Robins was first established by European settlers, developing what was at first a quiet railroad stop into Georgia’s largest industrial complex. Even the name has changed over the years.
The early days of Warner Robins were slow going. Or at least they would be once a name was firmly established. During the first century of its lifetime, what was to become Warner Robins went by two other names. When Houston County was established in 1821 on Creek Indian land, the farming community there was known by its settlers as York for the first 50 years.
Following the Civil War, plans to join the rail line between Mason and Perry were well under way. Chief engineer William H. Wells convinced a plantation owner friend to donate 100 acres, where they could build a train station and community—dubbed Wellston after its completion. Over the next six decades, Wellston maintained a modest population of around 50 residents, surrounded by peanut farms, peach orchards, and cornfields.
Military Growth and Name Change
Then came World War II. Like most of the country, Wellston got hit hard and chose to turn hard times into opportunity. Local business leaders tried to attract the quickly developing defense industry to their land.
By June 1941, the town was finally selected as the site for an Army Air Corps Depot. Between Wellston residents donating land for civic buildings and the government purchasing more than 2,700 acres, hundreds of new homes sprung up around the burgeoning town and its newly established Commercial Circle. Throughout the war the depot would employ more than 23,000 personnel, all of whom helped fuel local growth.
The first depot commander, Col. Charles E. Thomas, hoped to rename it after his late mentor, Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins, who was also one of the air corps’ first logisticians. But depots were named for convenience, drawing inspiration from the nearest town or city. And so, Thomas went a step further and lobbied to change the town’s name.
Town residents agreed to the change, and on September 1, 1942 the town was officially renamed Warner Robins.
Postwar Boom and Beyond
After World War II, the Robins field was redesignated as Robins Air Force Base. It would continue to support military efforts including the Berlin Blockade and Airlift, the Korean War, and Cold War activities.
These days Warner Robins maintains much of its military legacy. As the largest industrial area in Georgia, it boasts a number of aerospace and technology companies. Many Warner Robins residents are military veterans who continue to live and work around the town.