Featured Photo by Visit Columbus

Architecture and History Near The Tombigbee River!

Mississippi is one of the best states in the country to learn about and experience southern US history. From architecture and the Civil War to the heritage and culture of various groups of people, all regions of the state are rich with historical experiences and places. A great place to visit to learn about historical southern architecture, the Civil War, and the heritages of Native Americans and African Americans is in northeastern Mississippi in the Tombigbee River Valley. Here you will find historic Columbus, Mississippi, the perfect destination or road trip for Great River Road travelers who appreciate classic Southern architecture, history, food and hospitality. Check out these tours to start your historical vacation in Columbus.

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During the Civil War, Columbus was known as a hospital town because it opened its churches and homes to the wounded. As a result, Columbus was left mostly untouched, leaving their historical homes and buildings intact. Today these historical buildings still stand, preserving the architecture and history for visitors to tour. A great place to start is the Tennessee Williams House Museum & Welcome Center, home of legendary playwright Tennessee Williams and the perfect place to get more information on other historical places in Columbus. Other historically and architecturally significant places you may want to see include the Stephen D. Lee Home & Museum, the Waverley Plantation Mansion, and Whitehall. You can enjoy a tour by appointment at these historic homes to learn about the architectural style, the past inhabitants, and important events that may have taken place there. There are also many historical homes that do not allow tours, but you can drive by them, or see them during Columbus’ Spring Pilgrimage.

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If you are interested in Civil War history, there are several places around Columbus you may want to see during your trip. Northern Mississippi was a heavy battlefield during the war, and many of the wounded were brought to Columbus to be cared for. Today, many of those wounded are buried in Friendship Cemetery, a public, historic place you can visit during your time in Columbus. Other places to learn more about the Civil War in Columbus include the Stephen D. Lee Home & Museum, which houses the Florence McLeod Hazard Museum exhibiting Civil War collections and artifacts, and the Lowndes County Courthouse where the Mississippi Legislature met after the state capital fell to the Union Army.

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African American heritage is rich in Columbus and many southern communities, and with the help of organizations like the Mississippi Civil Rights Project, education and awareness is spreading on the past and current struggles of the African American community. One way to learn about African American heritage in Columbus is by visiting the historical and cultural places in town. A place you may not want to miss is Catfish Alley, a central gathering place and business district for the Columbus African American community in the late 1800s and early 1900s. If you plan accordingly, you can attend the annual festival, Catfish in the Alley, held to educate, and remember the African American citizens who contributed to the town’s rich heritage. Another location is a Mississippi Historic Landmark, the R. E. Hunt Museum and Cultural Center. The museum, which began as an education center for African American students in the late 1950s during segregation, is a great reminder of the struggles and suffering of African Americans due to racism and discrimination.

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Columbus contains historical places with significance to Native American heritage that are perfect for learning about the area’s original inhabitants. The city’s native populations, the Choctaw and Chickasaw, inhabited the area long before the first conquistadors crossed the Tombigbee River around 1540. The most significant place in Columbus preserving Native American heritage is Plymouth Bluff. The 190-acre educational and recreational facility offers plenty of opportunities for education on the Choctaw and Chickasaw and for outdoor recreation. You can stop into the Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center, for a beautiful view of the Tombigbee River and to learn all about the history and culture of the original Native tribes. Then you can top your visit off with a little bit of hiking on the center’s nature trails, to see the places where these populations lived and interacted long ago.

I am a student, aspiring writer, and avid reader of books. My favorite things in the world are my two German Shepherds.

Maeve Miller

Writer , River Travel Magazine