Columbia, PA, formerly Wright’s Ferry, is located between the metropolitan areas of Lancaster, York, and Harrisburg. Founded in 1726, this area is clearly historic and indicative of the rich traditions of Lancaster. Its residents are rightly proud of the role Columbia has played in not only Lancaster history, but American history. Because of its location, Columbia has long been an important part of the region.
The community was founded in part by Evangelist John Wright, hence it’s original name. Wright was a Colonial English Quaker. Accompanying Wright to the area were Robert Barber and Samuel Blunston. Each settled down in the area setting up permanent homes there. Thereafter, in 1788, John’s grandson, Samuel plotted out 160 lots in the central section of the Borough. He dubbed the Borough Columbia, after Christopher Columbus.
The small town was briefly considered in the running for the capital of the United States, missing the designation by a few mere votes. It was later suggested as the capital of Pennsylvania, but Harrisburg was chosen instead because of its central proximity in the state.
The Civil War was hard on Columbia because of it’s location which was strategically placed at the Susquehanna River and also all of Lancaster County. In spite of this, the area remained an important spot for industry and transport throughout the 19th century. After the Great Depression it began to bounce back economically and is now a thriving community that’s growth is projected to continue.
Today, the tourist trade is alive and well in Columbia. Visitors can find and enjoy the National Watch and Clock Museum, which opened in 1977. It is recognized as the nation’s largest, most comprehensive collection of timekeeping pieces in North America. It houses more than 12,000 items relating to watches, clocks and timekeeping, referred to as the study of horology.
Visitors can enjoy several sights and activities in Columbia such as the Columbia HIstoric Market, the Columbia Historic Preservation Center, the First National Bank Museum, and Wright’s Ferry Mansion. Ice cream lovers may enjoy the Turkey Hill Experience for a sweet treat. There are exhibits about how ice cream is made and children especially will love the mechanical cows.
Antique lovers should see Burning Bridge Antiques for a fun shopping experience in the heart of this extremely historic Borough. It is a mall comprised of several antique stores that are sure to offer something for all those who appreciate how special something with a little life in it can be.
The area is also home to the Susquehanna Glass Company which was founded in 1910 by Albert Roye. The business remains family owned and is a leader in many techniques of glass cutting and etching. A grand position for a company that began in a shed under the direction of one man with great vision. No doubt, Roye is proud of his family and company.