“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Columbia in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Columbia: a Transportation Hub

Lancaster-York Heritage Region

— Susquehanna River Water Trail —

Columbia: a Transportation Hub Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 7, 2019
1. Columbia: a Transportation Hub Marker
During the mid-nineteenth century, Columbia was a bustling transportation hub. Turnpikes, ferries, bridges, canals, wharves, and railroads made Columbia a major transshipment point in the movement of lumber, coal, grains, pig iron, and people.

Because the Susquehanna is rocky and shallow, most large boats could not navigate the river's treacherous waters below this point. Even rafts were unloaded and broken up here in town, where warehouses stored cargo, and sawmills cut the rough-hewn lumber into planks.

In 1832, a canal was constructed linking Columbia with areas to the north and west along the Susquehanna. Another segment of this vast transportation network was added in 1834 when a railroad line connecting Philadelphia and Columbia was completed. It subsequently became a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1840, Baltimore businessmen, not to be outdone by their Philadelphia rivals in the north, constructed a canal along the York County shoreline. The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal, as it was known, connected nearby Wrightsville to the Chesapeake Bay in the south.

The river transported
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people as well as goods. With large African-American and Quaker populations, Columbia was a way station on the Underground Railroad. Here, runaway slaves from the Chesapeake Bay region found safe haven on their way to freedom.

[Captions:] The busy Pennsylvania Canal Basin in the 1800s with the Pennsylvania Railroad in the foreground.
Courtesy Columbia Historic Preservation Association

1828 Lycoming Coal map showing canals and railroads in the Mid Atlantic. The Lancaster-York Region is highlighted in the blue circle.
Courtesy Harold Kramer,

Canal boats laden with coal at the Bruner coal wharf which was operated by H. F. Bruner and Son, North Front and Bridge Streets, Columbia.
Courtesy Columbia Historic Preservation Association
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RRBridges & ViaductsRailroads & StreetcarsWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), and the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1832.
Location. 40° 1.862′ N, 76° 30.551′ W. Marker is in Columbia, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster
Columbia: a Transportation Hub Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 7, 2019
2. Columbia: a Transportation Hub Marker
County. Marker can be reached from Walnut Street west of Locust Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 220 North Front Street, Columbia PA 17512, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Columbia and Its Railroads (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Old Columbia Public Grounds Co. (about 400 feet away); Pennsylvania Railroad Passenger Station (about 700 feet away); Columbia (approx. 0.2 miles away); Railroads During the Civil War (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Columbia (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln Highway (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lloyd Mifflin House (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia.
Regarding Columbia: a Transportation Hub.
[Credits information:]
This project was completed with generous contributions from the following project partners.

National Park Service, Chesapeake Bay Gateways & Water Trails Network;
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Growing Greener & Heritage Parks Programs;
Lancaster County Planning Commission
East Donegal Township
Marietta Borough
PPL Holtwood LLC
Safe Harvard Water Power Corporation
York Haven Power Company
The John Wright Company
Credits. This page was last revised on November 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 7, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 420 times since then and 19 times this year. Last updated on November 29, 2020, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 7, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 13, 2024