Originally constructed between 1819 and 1824 by the State government, the Columbia Canal enabled water borne freight to pass safely around the shoals and rapids at the head of the Congaree River. Originally, the canal wsa just over three miles long, beginning at the foot of Richland Street and ending at the present site of the Olympia quarries.
The original canal served Columbia as an important transportation route until the coming of the reailroads some twenty years later.
In 1863, a large part of the canal was leased to the Confederate Government for construction of a power mill just above the Congaree Bridge. The mill was destroyed by General Sherman in 1865.
The canal was reconstructed from 1888 to 1891 to be used as a source for hydro-electric power, providing electricity in 1895 to the first hydro-electric textile mill in the world. The construction of the new municipal waster plant on the canal in 1906 gave the canal a second important function.
Today, in addition to the canal's importance as a source of water and electricity, the Columbia Canal offers visitors a unique recreational facility. Columbia, in addition to being the first-planned capital in America, was also the first city named for the famous explorer Christopher Columbus. There is a nice statute of Columbus along the canal.
Location:Laurel and Gist Streets (adjacent to Columbia
Activities:walking, jogging, bicycling (2 1/2 miles along canal), picnicking, fishing.
Finlay Park, named after a former mayor of Columbia, is the city's most visited park. The 14-acre park opened in 1991. The park features a scenic waterfall and cascading mountain type stream falling to the park lake. There are picnic tables, two playground areas and a cafe. The park is a favorite for families.
The park is also host to numerous events and festivals, including the Sizzlin' Summer Concert Series. The free outdoor concerts (7 - 10 p.m.) run for 13 weeks beginning May 24th and include blues, beach, classical, contemporary/top 40, country, bluegrass, reggae and more. Admission is free and picnics are welcomed (glass containers, grills, pets and radios are not permitted).
Tentative Schedule for Sizzlin' Summer Concert Series:
CLICK HERE for current schedule and more information.
This downtown 7-acre park features a large monument and two free standing walls with the names of 980 South Carolinians who were killed or missing in action in Vietnam. The Vietnam memorial is the largest of its type outside of Washington, D.C. Other war memorials are located in and planned for the park.
Vietnam Memorial Inscription:: In memory of the sons and daughters of South Carolina who lost their lives in the service of their country in Vietnam. Dedicated November 1986.
Pearl Harbor Memorial Inscription: In memory of the twenty-five men from South Carolina who gave their lives during the Japenese attack on Pearl Harbor and on other military bases on 7 December 1941. Dedicated September 1995
There are also memorials for veterans of the China-Burma-India campaigns during World War II and for the U.S.S. Columbia CL-56. The U.S.S. Columbia was in service 29 July 1942 - 2 September 1945 and was credited for downing 27 planes and assisting in the sinking of 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers and 2 battleships. It was awarded 10 battlestars and 2 Navy Unit citations.
A memorial for veterans of the Korean War is in the planning stages.
The City of Columbia has at least 20 other city parks featuring many programs for children and adults, ball fields, tennis, swimming and much more. Call (803) 733-8331 for more information.