One of the oldest cities in Georgia, Fort Gaines, established in 1814, serves as the county seat for Clay County. The city grew up around a fort on the Chattahoochee River established to protect settlers during the Creek Indian Wars. Fort Gaines is named for the fort's builder, General Edmund Pendleton Gaines.
The city became a shipping point for cotton planters for many miles on both sides of the Chattahoochee River, remaining a key market until about 1858 when railroads replaced river freight.
Fort Gaines is home to the Lake Walter F. George Resort and Marina. The George T. Bagby Park and Lodge is also located on Lake Walter and has recreational facilities for boating, swimming, fishing or picnicking.