Columbia is a borough located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Initially, it was referred to as Wright’s Ferry. It is located exactly 45 km to the southeast of Harrisburg, towards the left bank of Susquehanna River. This town was first founded in 1728 and served as an important transportation hub for travellers along land, rail, and river routes to the other destination. In its early history, Columbia also played a critical role in shuttling passengers as well as cargo across the river. However, in its later years, the town grew into a reliable industrial hub for coal, lumber, as well as assorted goods. As of the 2000 census, this town has a total population of 10,311 people, 2,589 families, and 4,287 households.
The history of Columbia also points fingers towards John Wright, a Quaker who travelled to this town to preach to the Indians. In order to accomplish his mission, Wright established a ferry in 1730 that later provided access to the land that was located beyond the western banks of Susquehanna. Surprisingly, Wright’s Ferry Mansion can still be seen standing at Second and Cherry Street in the town. Columbia was also once considered for the role of America’s capital. However, a greater percentage of its historical district features Victorian-Influenced architecture that has a wide range of styles representing the 18th century traditional styles.
The 20th Century was one of the most challenging for in the history of Columbia. At the start of this century, there were certain challenges that faced the local industries, and lead to economic decline. The surrounding woodlands became exhausted and the lumber industry in the town eventually disappeared. The iron ores that were initially existing at Chestnut Hill became scarce as well and the iron furnaces had to be shut down. Due to this economic decline, the steel rolling mills also stopped to operate. Columbia’s economy was also marred into a slide by the effects of the Great Depression. This led to the further elimination of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s service that was located to the north and the south. Even though WWII increased employment opportunities in Columbia, it did not result in long-term prosperity to the borough.
Columbia is part of the rolling hills and the scenic towns of Western Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Apart from Columbia, other towns that fall under this category as well include Marietta and Wrightsville among other small towns that are nestled near the Susquehanna River.
The schooling system features elementary, secondary, and historical schools. All the schools in Columbia are part of the Columbia Borough School District. Some of the elementary schools include Park Elementary and Taylor Elementary. Common secondary schools include the Columbia Junior/ Senior High, and Our Lady of the Angels among many others. Historical schools include Cherry Street School, Manor Street School, Holy Trinity School, Poplar Street School, Taylor School, St. Peter’s School, and the Washington Institute.
Columbia plays host to a number of activities and events. These facilitate the celebration of the rich stories, past, as well as the present status of the town. Annual events are among some of the activities that make this town quite memorable. One popular event that makes Columbia stand out is the Fabulous Forth Fridays event that takes place on the fourth Friday of each month. Other events include Columbia Arbour Day scheduled for late April, River Run Race scheduled for mid-May, Cruisin’ Columbia Car Show in mid-June, Flames Across the Susquehanna in late June, Antiques, Arts and Crafts Show in late June, and Annual Bridge Bust in early October among many other events.
Some of the popular destinations to visit in Columbia include the National Watch & Clock Museum, Turkey Hill Experience, Wright’s Ferry Mansion, Chiques Rock Outfitters, Burning Bridge Antiques Market, Barnyard Kingdom, Sickman’s Mill Creek Tubing, Shank’s Mare Outfitters, and Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre.
At the National Watch & Clock Museum, you can journey through the history of time. This site is beautifully expanded and allows visitors to experience a fun and fascinating journey into the timekeeping world. The aspect of timekeeping is illustrated by over 12,000 treasures of time. These treasures range from Stonehenge as well as early sundials to contemporary technology.
At Turkey Hill Experience, there are interactive exhibits that allow visitors to learn about the dairy culture and other related aspects. This attraction is influential in helping Lancaster County, PA visitors understand what it is like being a Turkey Hill Dairy ice cream maker for a single day. Furthermore, visitors also get the rare opportunity to create their own virtual ice cream flavour.
Columbia also features the Wright’s Ferry Mansion that stands as an evidence of the strong rooting of the settlement that was made by various English Quakers that come from Darby and Chester, Pennsylvania. Two books concerning the Wright’s Ferry Mansion have also been published recently.
Columbia also has a huge number of museums and historic sites. For over a half a century, this town has served as the headquarters of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC). NAWCC has a campus on Poplar Street that includes a clock museum, clock tower, research centre, library, and the School of Horology. Other notable sites include the Columbia Historic District, Columbia Historic Preservation Society, Columbia Market House, First National Bank Museum, Bachman and Forry Tobacco Warehouse, Columbia Wagon Works, and the Old Columbia – Wrightsville Bridge.
Apart from these attractions, there are many other things you could as well take part while in Columbia. You could visit the River Street Café and enjoy pub fare as well as unique selections of seafood that are paired with a long list of craft spirits and beers. This is also a great spot for visitors to relax and catch some entertainment owing to the existence of a large outdoor patio. Alternatively, you could visit George’s Furniture and watch master craftsmen design furniture by hand. You can as well tour the workshop and the two large galleries that have amazing designs.
Columbia is an exciting town to explore in Lancaster County, PA. While visiting, ensure you sightsee the entire region and gather the memories with you for future reference.