Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 29, 2013 near Columbia River Park, Columbia, PA - 87th Pennsylvania Company C

June 29, 2013 near Columbia River Park, Columbia, PA - 87th Pennsylvania Company C (based in York, PA) demonstrates various loading and firing procedures.

Bridge Burning Commemoration - June 28 and 29, 2013

Friday evening began uneventfully, but with a sense of anticipation.  This night would mark the 150th anniversary of the burning of the Civil War era bridge by militiamen from Columbia.  The town has always been justifiably proud of this event which changed the course of the Civil War.

Godshall's Custom Machining set up a display of locomotives at the former train station on Front Street.

 Several Fish and Boat Commission officers were in attendance to coordinate boat traffic during the lighting of the braziers atop the old bridge piers

 A little after 7 o'clock, people were filing onto the bridge.  A crowd began to gather at the Columbia River Park, also.

 Several reenactors watched from the park.

After paying the two dollar per person admission fee, we waited with our cameras on the bridge, directly above the shore line, hoping to get shots of the anticipated line of fires across the river, which would soon be visible.  Crowds of people continued arriving as the evening progressed.  Although the lighting of the braziers was scheduled to begin at 9:30, we didn't detect flames from the Wrightsville side until after 10 o'clock.  We overheard comments from fire police and others that the wood was wet and difficult to light.  We waited patiently as each brazier was lit, and the fires could be seen gradually making their way towards us.  In the meantime, many attendees, frustrated by the delays, began leaving the bridge in droves.  At 11 p.m., the fires were a little over two-thirds of the way across, when a Columbia policeman told us it was time to leave the bridge.  I was disappointed by this edict, not so much because I paid a fee for an event I was now being prevented from seeing, but because I was not allowed to stay and get my shots.  I was certain the fires would make it to the Columbia side by 11:30.

Besides, the signs on the Wrightsville side clearly stated that the bridge would be closed until 12 a.m.  I understood it would take time to clear pedestrians from the bridge before allowing vehicle traffic to resume, but half an hour should have been sufficient to do the job, especially since a great number of attendees had already left.

I was right - the last brazier was lit at 11:30 p.m. (by Jim Cox of Chiques Rock Outfitters).

I managed a few unsatisfactory hand-held shots from River Park.

Unfortunately, the night ended on a downer.

Saturday, June 29.
Despite the previous night's disappointments, we attended the encampment next to River Park the next day.

A blacksmith fashioned metal implements.

A fifer "fifed."

Reenactors happily answered questions.

Some took cover from the sun.

Here, too.

Others demonstrated period firearms.

Or adjusted their canvas tents.

Many musicians were present . . .

Onlookers enjoyed the presentation.

Others lectured on history.

Many interested folks attended.

This was a demonstration of how lead is melted and formed into bullets.

Weapons of war

As well as here

and here.

A hand-cranked music box that plays small rolls similar to piano rolls.  (They can be seen on the table.)

The 87th Pennsylvania Company C demonstrated loading and firing procedures and techniques (as seen below).

President Lincoln posed with local belles.

Another reenactor in period costume.

Union soldier checking his rifle.

President Lincoln observed the troops.

Lincoln accompanied by soldier

Soldiers readied themselves for the visit.

Lincoln greeted the troops

and shook hands.

A soldier demonstrated how to "stack" rifles.

The president pondered the future of the Union

and walked off into history.

Meanwhile at the Reading and Columbia Railroad station on Bank Street, black Union soldiers gathered (along with a few Confederates?)

A Confederate soldier in butternut uniform posed with Union soldiers.

Union soldiers proudly displayed the American flag.

Here also.

Time for a drink on a hot day.

Carrying the flag.

Flag of the 3rd United States Colored Troops

Historical information.

Most of the print can be read if the photos are enlarged.

Group shot - Union and Confederate

Proud soldiers

Looking on


Side by side

Despite a few disappointments, the event was a huge success. Thanks go to Chris Vera and the volunteer staff at the Columbia Historic Preservation Society (CHiPS),  Jim "Marty" Cox and the Chiques Rock Outfitters crew, the reenactors, and all others who were involved in the planning and implementation of this historic event.