Bill Kirby blogs Augusta history

CSRA and the man who named it

Charles C. McCollum, the Wrens resident and Jefferson County educator who coined the term "CSRA."   Augusta Chronicle file photo
Augusta Chronicle file photo
Charles C. McCollum, the Wrens resident and Jefferson County educator who coined the term "CSRA."

For many, it is an anagram mystery.

For newcomers to Augusta, it has long been a puzzle.

They are the four letters, which for six decades have defined a region -- CSRA.

 Some have thought it had something to do with the CSX Railroad. Others, the Confederate States of America.

But no.

CSRA is the result of a newspaper and radio contest won by a rural educator who lived to be almost 100.

It stands for Central Savannah River Area. It was the regional name suggested 60 years ago by Charles C. McCollum, of Wrens, Ga.

This was back in post-World War II America when the government encouraged regions to give themselves names. It helped deal with the larger area problems that collections of counties might have.

A contest was conceived. Augusta's legendary Chamber of Commerce dynamo Lester Moody was involved and eventfully he presented the check.

According to the June 25, 1950, issue of The Augusta Chronicle, McCollum, a longtime Jefferson County educator, won the $250 prize when his suggestion was chosen from 2,500 entries evaluated by a panel of community leaders from Georgia and South Carolina.

Not only did The Chronicle and its sister paper the Augusta Herald promote the name contest, but so did four local radio stations: WGAC, WBBQ, WRDW and WJBF.

No TV, yet.

In the beginning, "CSRA" was quite popular and many businesses used it as part of their name to promote their communitywide reach. That's why you still see it so often in the phone book.

In recent years its impact has, however, been diminished, maybe because the "alphabet soup" of government agencies is now considered a negative.

 As for defining it, we turn to the CSRA Regional Development Center data:

- The "CSRA" is a 13-county East Georgia region with an economic center being the consolidated government of Augusta-Richmond County.

- These 13 counties are Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Wilkes, Lincoln, Washington, Hancock, Taliaferro, Warren, Glascock, McDuffie, Jenkins and Jefferson.

- Five South Carolina counties are considered part of the CSRA. They are Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick, Allendale and Barnwell counties.

But let's not forget McCollum, or "Professor McCollum," as this newspaper often referred to him.

After winning the contest he wrote a thank-you letter to the selection committee, which included this description of our region -- the CSRA he named and loved:

"This is truly a great section, favored wonderfully by nature, and it is the home of brave, prosperous and happy people. I sincerely believe that as it continues to develop in greatness this name will grow in importance and in the appreciation of all living in this favored area."

He was well known for his school administration work in Jefferson County, as well as his hometown of Wrens where -- in his 90s -- he led a successful campaign for a new library. A Chronicle story in 1973 reported the effort, including his insistence that all donors be recognized on a plaque. This was done and about 300 names are on it.

That old building in Wrens has been replaced by a modern facility on Main Street. It's called the McCollum Public Library.

They kept the plaque "Professor" McCollum wanted to display with all its names.

Some things last, I guess.

Just like the term "CSRA."



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Southern_Patriot 02/24/10 - 08:01 pm
Great Story!

Great Story!

Nate Owens
Nate Owens 02/24/10 - 08:12 pm
I preferred imagining it

I preferred imagining it meant "Confederate States will Rise Again."
Oh, well, another romanticism bashed.
(I also liked the moon better before we went up and left trash on it)

TrulyWorried 02/24/10 - 09:32 pm
How interesting - thank you

How interesting - thank you for presenting the story!!
I've been in the Augusta area for almost 60 years but was unaware how CSRA came to be. Hope this story will stay alive so future generations will know about it too.

johnston.cliff 02/25/10 - 12:20 am
I agree with Professor

I agree with Professor McCollum, This is a wonderful part of the country. I hate what government subsidy programs havd done to its people. I hope that some day they'll be able to throw off this horrible form of slavery and return to the culture of humanity.

nofrills 02/25/10 - 10:37 am
Professor McCollum truly

Professor McCollum truly loved this area as I do now. I have been to many countries on this planet earth and this is where I choose to live. We have our problems but we all share a common bond and thats the love for the CSRA.

deekster 02/25/10 - 11:22 am
"George, Says it will rain"

"George, Says it will rain" uses Central Savannah River Area" at least once a day. Its used in the AC. The AC did a survey of the CSRA and asked if either "ignorance or apathy" affected our area. 95% responded that they "did not know and did not care". It made Augusta look like something it was not. It gave credence to an every enlarging/controlling local government.

2 B JUST ME 02/25/10 - 12:58 pm
I was just typing that same

I was just typing that same comment about George says it is...CSRA. I was born and raised in the area so just thought everyone knew...

Lou Stewall
Lou Stewall 02/25/10 - 03:07 pm
Hey Bill, there is a kid

Hey Bill, there is a kid wearing a sign that says "I am a thief and liar..." on the corner of Lumpkin and Deeb.

Bill Kirby
Bill Kirby 02/25/10 - 04:49 pm
Thanks for tip. A

Thanks for tip. A photographer went out there, but didn't find anyone. We also called Butler High, which is nearby, to see if it was some sort of student punishment. They said no.
We also called the Sheriff's Office, which did not know about it. And we called the District Attorney's Office, which said they were unaware of any such punishment, but would need a name of the person before they could check it.

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