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Columbia, Illinois, a charming city located in Monroe County, is known for its rich historical past. Nestled near the banks of the Mississippi River, this vibrant community has witnessed several significant events throughout its existence. Here are seven historical events that have taken place near Columbia:

1. The Founding of Columbia: Columbia was founded in 1788 by a group of settlers known as the "French Creoles." The settlement quickly became a strategic hub for trade as it was situated near the river. Its founding marked the beginning of a prosperous era for Columbia.

2. The Battle of Fort Jefferson: During the War of 1812, Fort Jefferson, located just west of Columbia, played a crucial role. In 1814, British-allied Native American tribes attacked and seized the fort, resulting in a fierce battle. However, American forces soon recaptured the fort, securing an important victory for the United States.

3. The Arrival of the Railroad: In the mid-19th century, the arrival of the railroad had a transformative effect on Columbia. The Illinois Central Railroad reached the town in 1856, connecting it to major cities like St. Louis and Chicago. The railroad opened doors to new economic opportunities, facilitating trade and growth in the region.

4. Columbia Bridge Disaster: On April 14, 1874, tragedy struck when the Columbia Bridge, a steel swing bridge, collapsed during a train crossing. The disaster led to the deaths of several individuals and caused significant damage. The event served as a catalyst for stricter safety regulations in the construction and operation of bridges.

5. Columbia's Role in the Prohibition Era: In the early 20th century, Columbia became a hotbed for the illegal alcohol trade during the Prohibition era. The city's proximity to the Mississippi River made it an ideal location for bootleggers and rum-runners, leading to an increase in organized crime activities.

6. The Columbia Tornado of 1967: On February 24, 1967, a devastating tornado ripped through Columbia, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. The tornado damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings, marking one of the most significant natural disasters in the city's history. The community rallied together to rebuild and recover from the tragedy.

7. The Bicentennial Celebration: In 1988, Columbia celebrated its bicentennial, marking 200 years since its founding. The city organized a series of events, exhibitions, and parades to commemorate its rich history. The occasion brought residents and visitors together, highlighting the sense of community and pride that has always been a part of Columbia.

These seven historical events have shaped the identity and character of Columbia, Illinois. From its humble beginnings as a French Creole settlement to its involvement in warfare, economic advancements, and overcoming natural disasters, this vibrant city's history is a testament to the resilience and spirit of its people.

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