Columbus in Hickman County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
A River View of History
Looking out at the river today - especially when the water is low and lazy - it is sometimes easy to forget the Mississippi's grandeur, power, and importance. Yet, it remains a vivid part of our collective memory - the mighty and mysterious waterway brought to life by writers, composers, artists, and those living within its reach.
"When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman...(on) the great Mississippi, the majestic, the magnificent Mississippi..."
Samuel Clemens - writing under the pen name Mark Twain, in
(Captions under photos on the right):
River traffic - around A.D. 1000
The background scene shows a small hamlet that was part of a larger village. Who was living here then? To find out, come inside to The Town that Broke Kentucky's Neutrality.
River traffic - circa 1800
View upriver - 1864
This photograph was taken during the last years of the Civil War, when the Union occupied Columbus. When the Confederacy held this position, Union gunboats would have approached from the north.
Union gunboat fleet - 1860s
This photograph shows some of the Union's western river navy at Cairo, Illinois. The "brown-water" fleet included armored gunboats and converted steamships or ferries used as transport ships.
River traffic - 1886
This lithograph romanticizes life on the Mississippi River during the latter 19th century. Mark Twain captured the excitement felt in small river towns when all attention focused on traffic up and down river. "Once a day a cheap, gaudy packet arrived upward from St. Louis, and another downward ... Before these events had transpired, the day was glorious with expectancy; after they had transpired, the day was a dead and empty thing. Not only the boys, but the whole village, felt this."
Location. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Columbus KY 42032, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Columbus - A Town Transformed (here, next to this marker); Earthquakes Along the Mississippi (within shouting distance of this marker); African Americans at Columbus during the Civil War (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fourth United States Colored Heavy Artillery (about 400 feet away); The Battle at Belmont, Missouri (about 400 feet away); The History of Columbus, Kentucky (about 400 feet away); "Gibraltar of the West" (about 500 feet away); Anchor and Chain (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbus.
Categories. • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels •
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 21, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 848 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 21, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.