History of the city of Columbia, Tennessee


Columbia, Tennessee is centrally located just south of Nashville along the I-65 corridor. It lies along the Duck River, 43 miles (69 km) southwest of Nashville. Columbia is the county seat of Maury County and regional hub for economic and business activity in the South Central Tennessee region.

The name Columbia was given to the area carved from the territories of the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaw Indians. The community has grown from a land area of two square miles to more than twenty – nine square miles. Population for 2010 year is 34,681.

The City of Columbia was officially chartered on November 16, 1807. The County Court appointed the first Patrollers or Town Marshals for the town in December of 1808. These men had the responsibility of preserving order in the town.

James K. Polk, 11th U.S. president, moved to Columbia as a child from North Carolina; he began his law practice there in 1820, and his home is now a historic site.

During much of the American Civil War the city was an operations base for the Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, and it was occupied alternately by Union and Confederate troops. Battles were fought at nearby Thompson’s Station (March 1863) and Spring Hill (November 1864).

Colombia city economy

Columbia developed as an agricultural centre in a region of fertile farmland. It survived floods and earthquakes in its early years. Columbia soon became a centre of mule trading; beginning about 1840 a livestock market, one of the largest in the world at that time, was held there. An official celebration of the mule trade, including the Mule Day Parade, began in 1934 and has been held annually in the spring since 1974. An annual local event is the Walking Horse Spring Jubilee.

Columbia’s economic base shifted after 1890 with the exploitation of local phosphate deposits; by the 1980s, however, most of the processing plants had shut down. A large automobile manufacturing plant in nearby Spring Hill is a major contributor to the area’s economy. Other manufactures include air conditioners, dehumidifiers, carbon and graphite electrodes, and clothing. Livestock also remains important. Columbia State Community College opened in the city in 1966.

Columbia State Community College is the local institution of higher educational. Other nearby institutions include Tennessee State University, David Lipscomb University and Belmont University.

Columbia’s historic downtown commercial district has an energy and inviting atmosphere that attracts visitors and residents alike for the best in shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Columbia and nearby Attractions

  • Pillow Park
  • Tennessee State Museum
  • Maury County Park
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Adventure Science Center
  • Cultural Museum at Scarritt – Bennett Center

The Columbia area has many antebellum homes, which can be toured during annual pilgrimages. Homes of particular interest include Rattle and Snap (1842–45), the Athenaeum (1835), Rippavilla Plantation (1852), and the James K. Polk Ancestral Home (1816). hosts activities and cultural treasures that range from state and local exhibits to traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian Institute.


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