History Collection Galleries

The Chattahoochee River has bound together the region through which it flows for millennia. All along its ancient course, it has been a life-giving resource that nourished and sustained the people living along its banks. Nowhere has that relationship been closer than in the Lower Chattahoochee River Valley region of Georgia and Alabama. As a transportation and commerce route providing food, water, power, and recreation to those who have lived along its banks, the river has shaped life in this area and heavily influenced its cultural development. In this gallery, objects and images from the permanent collection tell the 10,000-year history of human habitation in Columbus and the surrounding area.

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Reconstruction to 1900

Obtaining freedom was the most dramatic yet challenging moment of most slaves’ lives. Finding employment, establishing their own institutions, and overcoming the hostility of much of the white population made their situation an especially difficult one in the post-war period known as Reconstruction. While some former slaves found employment in a variety of trades, the […]

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.

Early 20th Century

In the first decades of the 20th century, Columbus continued to grow as an industrial and cultural center of the Chattahoochee Valley. Local entrepreneurs started successful businesses, while residents enjoyed theater and musical shows, most notably at the Springer Opera House and the Liberty Theatre. Residents of all ages enjoyed recreation at the Wildwood (present-day […]

Fort Benning

Fort Benning has been a vital part of the Columbus community for nearly a century. The post moved here from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1918 when Army officials desired a larger site with a climate and terrain better suited to training needs.

Great Depression and World War II

The economic catastrophe of the Great Depression left a mark on the Chattahoochee Valley’s industries. Many local mills and businesses struggled to stay open, but numerous New Deal projects offered some jobs for workers.

Era of Turmoil

The era between the end of World War II and the early 1970s was a turbulent one, as the area became involved in national debates over the Civil Rights movement and a scandal in Phenix City that brought the area unprecedented national attention. Thomas Brewer was widely regarded as the leader of the civil rights […]

Chattahoochee Valley Today

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates three large lakes along the lower Chattahoochee that have become among the region’s foremost tourist attractions. Opened in the 1950s and 1960s, these reservoirs were designed to assist in providing flood control, hydroelectric power, navigation, fish and wildlife development, and recreation. An urban whitewater course in downtown Columbus, […]

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