Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not Just Industrial

From my posts of the past several days, you might have gotten the impression that Columbus, MS is just an old, dirty industrial town. Nothing could be further from that! Columbus is also a wonderfully picturesque southern town with old Antebellum homes and newer Victorians. In fact there are about 100 Antebellums and 200 Victorians. Five years ago, you could have bought them for a song, but with the growth going on prices have moved up to a more reasonable level. The Antebellum on the right can be yours for only $1.5 million.

Columbus was the main town where injured Confederate soldiers were cared for after the Battle of Shiloh. In that April 1862 battle in Shiloh, TN, on the banks of the Tennessee River just north of MS, 65,000 Union soldiers and 45,000 Confederate soldiers battled for three days, resulting in 23,746 casualties. Just think of transporting those soldiers 135 miles by wagon to Columbus! Because of the numerous hospitals that were set up in the churches and homes of Columbus, the town was spared when many other southern towns were torched in the last days of our Civil War, or as my southern mother-in-law calls it, “The War of Northern Aggression.”

The first Memorial Day, which later became a national holiday, originated in Columbus on April 25, 1866. Tennessee Williams was born in the town. His birthplace is now the town’s Visitor’s Center.

The town boasts a full time Arts Council. The downtown is thriving with over 100 new apartments and condos having been recently developed above the retail shops. “Noon Tunes” are a highlight on Thursday afternoons in the downtown when musical groups are hired to entertain.

The Mississippi University for Women, locally known as ‘W’, is now coed. Allegra Brigham, an alumni told me, “Today, it’s a university for women and smart men, too.” The Mississippi Math and Science School for 11th and 12th grade scholars is located adjacent to the W Campus.

Twenty five miles to the west of Columbus is Starkville, MS which is home to Mississippi State University. MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems was a key reason that PACCAR decided to put their new engine plant in Columbus. The company donated $2 million to the center on the day of their groundbreaking.

With what I’ve written about Columbus the past few days, I hope that you can understand why I’m going back next month. It is an incredible town!

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