Local Industries

Columbus area industries, which have produced items ranging from cola to cannons, have played a vital role in the region’s economy and helped form its identity as a Deep South industrial town. Numerous other business establishments have equally contributed to the city’s character and shaped its development, including Golden’s Foundry, Pekor Ironworks, the Schwobilt Company, Tom’s Foods Incorporated, the Royal Crown Cola Company, and the W.C. Bradley Company. Coca-Cola even got its start in Columbus, when pharmacist John Pemberton created the first version of the famous drink in his downtown drugstore while seeking relief from wounds sustained in the Battle of Columbus in 1865.

Steamboats also played a significant role in the region’s emergence as an industrial center. The steamboat era in Chattahoochee River history began with the 1827-28 voyage of the Fanny from Apalachicola, Florida to Columbus. In the 120 years that followed, more than 200 boats would ply the river’s waters. Transporting people and connecting the region to world markets, steamboats profoundly influenced the growth and development of the area.

  • Tom Huston Peanut Company handbill
    ca. 1950
    Museum purchase made possible by the Evelyn S. and H. Wayne Patterson Fund 2011.30

    Tom’s Foods was founded in 1925 by Columbus entrepreneur Tom Huston. Now owned by Snyder’s-Lance, the company produces 250 snack food products in its Columbus facility. Click here for more information

  • RC Cola Bottle
    ca. 1960
    Gift of Columbus State University Archives through Jimmy McKinstry 2009.16.52

    The Royal Crown Cola Company was founded in Columbus in 1905. Though its headquarters moved in the 1970s, its international division still has offices in Columbus. Click here for more information

  • River Boats and Iron Works, Columbus, Ga.
    ca. 1911
    Gift of Kenneth F. Murrah 2002.59.10

    This postcard depicts the steamboat Queen City and the Columbus Iron Works, both owned by Columbus businessman and philanthropist W.C. Bradley. Click here for more information

Translate »