Columbus, GA: The Biggest Small Town in the South
By Shannon Summers
COLUMBUS, GA. — Columbus, Georgia is a rare gem. Though it has a population of nearly 200,000, it has often been called the “biggest small town in the South.”
Founded in 1828, Columbus was a prime port location because it sits on a navigable portion of the Chattahoochee River. The Indian word Chattahoochee means “painted rock” which is likely due to the rich colors of the Georgia clay.
Actually, Columbus is on the northernmost navigable point on the Chattahoochee to the Gulf of Mexico. It was one of the few cities that were planned in advance of its founding.
The area was once the site of a Creek Indian Village until their “official” removal in 1836. It was established as a trading post and was considered the last “frontier town” of the original 13 colonies.
The city was one of commercial importance as it connected the cotton plantations of the region. Upon the arrival of the railroad in 1850, the textile industry began booming and the area was dubbed the “Lowell of the South,” the first of many descriptive nicknames the city would acquire throughout its history.
During the Civil War, Columbus became an important industry of the Confederacy and ranked second in supply manufacturing for them. On Easter Sunday in 1865, the Battle of Columbus, Georgia resulted in the burning of many of the industrial buildings in the city. Reconstruction began almost immediately after.
Columbus continued to expand on into the 20th Century. Though it began as an industry of textile mills, the city rapidly began developing a public sector, creating businesses of all types.
Ft. Benning, which sits right next to the city and is considered The Home of the Infantry, has greatly influenced the developmental patterns in Columbus, as it is definitely a military town.
A complete restoration of the Springer Opera House in 1965 helped lead the way for an art and music revolution of sorts. The Springer is now the State Theater of Georgia.
Now into the 21st Century, Columbus continues to expand and is the center for a variety of activity. Music, education, art, theater cycling, rafting, dining, and kayaking, are just some examples of the things this city full Southern hospitality has to offer.
True to its title “The Biggest Small Town in the South,” Columbus, Georgia is small enough to feel intimate but large enough to offer great variety. stay a few days and experience real Southern Hospitality. You may not want to go home.
By Shannon Summers