Friday, February 21, 2014

Traveling with History: Columbus

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

Do you like to travel?  Do you like History?  Do you like combining both?  One of the places to visit with an eye towards history is Columbus—founded in 1828 on a bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee River, it is Georgia's second largest city.  The city’s past is connected to the Creek Indians, textiles, Civil War Naval battles and today’s military at Fort Benning.
Some historic points of interest to see:
National Infantry Museum—Located at the entrance of Fort Benning, the museum honors Soldiers by providing education and training to Soldiers, families, and the general public on all facets of the history of the United States Infantry.  The museum also educates on the origin and development of Fort Benning.  The exhibits within the museum tell the story of the United States Army Infantryman, from the fields of the American Revolution to the sands of Afghanistan. You will also find displays of artifacts from all eras of American history and numerous interactive exhibits helping to bring the nation’s past to life through the latest in technological innovation.

National Civil War Naval Museum—located on the Chattahoochee River the museum tells the story of the Sailors, Soldiers, and Civilians, both Free and Enslaved as affected by the Navies of the American Civil War.  The museum overlooks the Chattahoochee River and houses the largest surviving Confederate warship, the CSS Jackson.  When seeing the CSS Jackson, the sheer size is overwhelming.  Also, the smell of the ship is formidable.  Visitors also have the chance to walk around a full scale ship replica of the USS Water Witch.  For those who love flags, the museum includes the largest collection of Civil War Naval-related flags on display in the country.

Columbus Museum—is a wonderful free museum founded in 1953.  It is one of the largest museums in the Southeast and contains exhibits concentrating on American art in all mediums, artifacts from the Lower Chattahoochee River Valley including Indian archaeological artifacts, and overall regional history. A real surprise is the interactive children’s gallery.  As a parent, I can say the children’s interactive area is one of the best I have seen in a museum.   

Heritage Park—take a walking of the park to see the industrial history of Columbus from 1850 to 1910, through interpretive sculptures and descriptive venues.  The outdoor sculptures and historic elements of the park represent the textile, gristmill, brick and foundry industries involved in the growth and development of the area, as well as agriculture and forest products, dams and bridges, river trade and travel, and Coca-Cola. You can either walk around on your own or schedule a guided tour through the Historic Columbus Foundation’s Heritage Tours.

Heritage Corner—Walk around the historic district at the corner of 7th Street & Broadway.  The area contains the five preserved homes you can tour representing different eras of Georgia history. Among them is the Pemberton House, once the home of local pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton, inventor of Coca-Cola.

The Riverwalk—stroll the banks of the Chattahoochee River stretching 22 miles from Lake Oliver on the north to Fort Benning on the South.  The Riverwalk links many key historic sites and points of interest in the city.  

Kadie the Cow—is a supersized 20 feet tall cow and more of a roadside attraction than a real history lesson.  For many years Kadie stood on a hill outside the Kinnett Dairies overlooking a shopping mall. Sadly, the dairies were torn down in the early 2000s and have since been replaced by Best Buy, but  Kadie remains.  

These are just some of my Columbus historical highlights.  What would you include in your historical tour of Columbus?

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