Jimmy Carter National Historical Park | BILLY CARTER’S SERVICE STATION MUSEUM

Billy Carter's Service Station in Plains, Georgia

Billy Carter’s Service Station in Plains, Georgia


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Billy Carter, Jimmy’s younger brother, owned the service station across the railroad tracks from the main business district of Plains, Georgia. Billy was the most colorful character in the Carter family and often an embarrassment to the President. He played up his role as a small-town-redneck-clown-prince who loved to drink beer, the type of character you’d expect to see in a Smoky and the Bandit film. He made and lost a good deal of money during his fifteen minutes of fame. While often portrayed as a buffoon by the press, his mother Lillian said he was the smartest of all her children, which is saying a lot because Jimmy Carter is pretty damn smart.

Billy is probably best known for his Billy Beer. During the election campaign, thousands of people were in Plains every day. Billy would bring in truckloads of his beer to his gas station and would sell every last case. While he promoted it, he had no hand in its brewing and eventually admitted that it was so bad that you’d have to be an alcoholic to like it. His beer of choice was Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Billy Beer Can

Billy Beer Can

The gas station standing today is actually a replica of the original station, which was torn down years ago. It now serves as a private museum full of Billy memorabilia. When I stopped in there was nobody there to run the place, so it seems to be a self-serve museum. There was a donation box, but no official entrance fee. Supposedly it is owned by Billy’s family and the Plains Better Hometown Association.

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Some of Billy Carter's clothing items on display at the Billy Carter Service Station Museum

Some of Billy Carter’s clothing items on display at the Billy Carter Service Station Museum

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Exhibits inside the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia

Ultimately, Billy’s is a sad story. Unable to deal with his fame, he turned to heavy drinking, got in trouble with the IRS, pleaded guilty to a fraud charge, and was even accused of trying to influence the United States government in weapons dealings with Libya after being granted a $220,000 loan from the Libyan government. Billy died at age 51 on September 25, 1988, a victim of pancreas cancer just like his mother, father, and one sister.

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Last updated on April 30, 2022
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