Columbia, Missouri is a city located in the center of the state and has a rich history rooted in its location. Over the years, several significant historical events have taken place in and around Columbia, contributing to its cultural significance. Here are seven of those events:
1. Thomas Hart Benton's Senate Race in 1850: Once a part of Boone County, Columbia was a hot spot of political activity in 1850 when Thomas Hart Benton was running for the U.S. Senate. Benton, who owned land in the area, had a strong anti-slavery stance, which made him unpopular among many rural Missourians. The race turned violent at times, with the candidates' supporters engaging in physical altercations. In the end, Benton was re-elected to the Senate.
2. Battle of Centralia in 1864: In the midst of the Civil War, Columbia and its surrounding areas were the site of several skirmishes. One of the most significant was the Battle of Centralia on September 27, 1864. Confederate guerrilla fighters attacked a Union train, killing more than 20 soldiers and taking around 120 unarmed Union soldiers prisoner. The event was a brutal reminder of the violence and turmoil of the time.
3. University of Missouri established in 1839: One of the most well-known landmarks in Columbia is the University of Missouri, which was established in 1839. At the time, it was one of the first public universities in the United States. The university has grown over the years to become a respected institution of higher learning, attracting students and faculty from all over the world.
4. Missouri Theatre built in 1928: The Missouri Theatre is an iconic Columbia landmark that was built in 1928. The theater featured Vaudeville acts, movie screenings, and live performances over the years. It closed in the 1980s but was restored and reopened in 2008. The theatre is now a popular venue for live theater performances and concerts.
5. The MKT Trail opened in 1982: The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Rail Trail, better known as the MKT Trail, spans more than eight miles and is one of the most popular outdoor recreation spots in the area. The trail was opened in 1982 and paved over the five-year period, with the first mile being completely paved in 1985. The trail attracts cyclists, runners, walkers, and nature lovers.
6. Columbia Regional Airport opens in 1968: Columbia Regional Airport began operations in 1968 and has been an integral part of the city's transportation infrastructure ever since. The airport has grown steadily over the years, with new airlines and flights added continuously. Its current terminal building opened in 2019.
7. The Missouri River was a major transportation route: Before the advent of the railroad, the Missouri River was the primary mode of transportation for goods and people in the area. Columbia was a crucial river stop, with steamboats hauling everything from produce to passengers up and down the river. Mark Twain's books, including "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn," give an excellent glimpse into life on the river in the 19th century.
In conclusion, Columbia, Missouri has a rich and interesting history due to its strategic location and growth over the years. The events listed above are just a few of the notable highlights, but many other significant events have shaped the city's character and made it the vibrant and culturally diverse community it is today.
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