Sunday, May 3, 2015

Columbia's past, alive and well, points the way to its future

Several presentations on Columbia's history, particularly its role in the Civil War, were offered at the opening of the Northwest River Trail Services Building at Columbia River Park on Friday.  

 Columbia's Glenn Bachert portrayed Captain Henry Haines, who served as captain of Co. B, 45th Pennsylvania Regiment.

Historian Randolph Harris (above) and Chris Vera, president of the Columbia Historic Preservation Society, led several historic river tours during the event. Of particular note were the remains of the piers of the Civil War-era bridge that was burned by Pennsylvania militiamen from Columbia to prevent the advance of Confederate forces. At the time, the structure was the longest wooden covered bridge in the world.  Harris rightly asserts that this area was the high water mark of the confederacy, and the bridge burning directly precipitated the Battle of Gettysburg and changed the course of the war and the nation.

 A rendering of the bridge burning from a slide presentation at the Trail Services Building

A photograph of Stephen Smith's lumber mill.
The structure stood on the same spot as the new Trail Services Building. Smith was a prominent African-American of the day. 

 In the 19th century, Columbia was a refuge for runaway slaves.  The underground railroad may have originated here. 

 A Civil War reenactor

 A Union soldier talks to Lydia Hamilton Smith, portrayed by Darlene Colon. Smith was the long-time housekeeper for Thaddeus Stevens and became a prominent businesswoman after his death.

William Whipper, portrayed by Columbia's Robert Brinson.
Whipper was an African-American abolitionist and businessman.


  1. This was a great day for Columbia and I was glad to be able to attend at least one of the events. Thanks for covering this Cole!

  2. thank you Cole! this is amazing! Wouldn't it be AWESOME if they continued the talk & tour of Columbia and the part it played in the Civil War like you described here that happened Friday. THIS SHOULD BE EVERY WEEKEND OVER THE SUMMER AND ADVERTISE IT.