Reflections of Columbia, Part 1 - Founding And Early History | Carolina Stories


Sitting on the Congaree River, Columbia, South Carolina has a rich, diverse, and celebrated history.

Columbia was founded on what was once a plantation owned by Colonel Thomas Taylor.  The “back country” settlers wished for a location which was more easily accessible than Charleston, and for the people living in the low country, they were not happy about the decision to found a new capitol city. In 1786, Senator John Lewis Gervais, along with other lawmakers, passed legislation to create the new city of Columbia. There were early disputes with the prototype grid layout of the city, since some of the city blocks ended up in the Congaree River. Between 1825-1840, Columbia had rapidly grown into a prosperous city, with Whites and free African-Americans living together in communities.

News of Columbia’s diverse culture spread quickly, and Columbia became a hub of cultural improvements, including worship services and higher education.

In 1842, the final railroad section of railroad connecting Branchville to Columbia was completed, connecting Columbia to the port of Charleston. This link became a major factor in the economic growth of the town.


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