Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Brookland


A brief history of the town that would become West Columbia

By Paul Armstrong

Brookland town officials posed in front of municipal offices in 1937.
From The State, November 11, 1937, page B-1.
In the 1880s, a US Post Office was established in the small settlement west of the Congaree River that is now West Columbia. Though the area was known commonly as Brookland, the US Post Office Department decided to name it the New Brookland Post Office because there was already a Brookland Post Office. Michael H. Witt, who operated a store in the area, was named as postmaster on July 21, 1887.

Along with Witt’s store, there were several established businesses in the modestly populated area by the early 1890s. These included the Brookland Canning Factory, a butcher shop, a livery stable, and a hall for public entertainment, dances, plays, etc. There was also a park at the corner of Meeting and State Streets that had been donated to the community by John Guignard. In 1891, The State newspaper called Brookland, “the thriving little town across the river in Lexington County”. Significant growth, however, would soon come from a development on the opposite side of the river.

Mill Village
The Columbia Mills Company was formed in February 1893 and built the world’s first all-electrically powered textile mill near the west end of Gervais Street. The plant, which went into production in June 1894 and employed 300 people in the first year, was less than 500 feet from the only bridge over the Congaree River. 

So, the Columbia Mills Company decided to build their mill village in Brookland. During 1893 and 1894 they constructed 40 houses for the mill employees to live. As was the custom at the time, families could occupy the houses rent-free as long as a certain number of family members were employed in the mill. The village was originally known as Aretasville in honor of the president of the Columbia Mills Company, Aretas Blood, but that moniker did not last long as the village soon became part of the incorporated town of Brookland.

Most of the Columbia Mills employees who lived in Brookland walked to and from work each day. To do so, they traversed a path of approximately one mile that included crossing the toll bridge over the Congaree River that had been built in 1872. This narrow roadway connected Meeting Street in Brookland to Gervais Street in Columbia and was the only bridge over the Congaree at the time. It was replaced in 1927 by the modern Gervais Street Bridge that is still in use today.

Photo taken in circa 1900 shows the only bridge over the Congaree River from 1872 to 1927.
Courtesy of the Richland CountyLibrary’s Bicentennial Photograph Collection
Although Brookland’s population grew considerably in the 1890s primarily due to the creation of the mill village, it remained a small town for the next five decades. Its population increased by an average of less than one percent annually during the first half of the twentieth century. The bustling city we know today as West Columbia is vastly different from the sleepy town of Brookland prior to the explosive growth of Columbia’s suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s. The Brookland of the 1930s had less than three residents for every 100 Columbians whereas there are now more than 13 West Columbians per 100 Columbia residents.

Incorporation, First Mayor, Etc.
The growth spurred by the mill village led to a need for municipal organization. So, in December 1894, the Town of Brookland was incorporated by act of the state legislature and the first municipal elections were held on February 2, 1895. The citizens elected Michael H. Witt as their first intendant (mayor) by a vote of 54 to 18 over Edward W. Shull. 


Newspaper article headlines about Brookland’s first municipal election.
From The State, February 3, 1895, page 5

The town was chartered by the state as Brookland although its post office was still officially the New Brookland Post Office. Many people referred to the town as New Brookland and many references to it under that name can be found in the newspapers, city directories, etc., even though it was officially Brookland. The town was re-chartered as a city in 1911 and was classed with municipalities having between 1,000 to 5,000 inhabitants.

The first town hall was located on Center Street near State Street and was replaced in 1925 by a new building which is still standing at 430 Center Street. It served as city hall, firehouse, and jail. As municipal services expanded, a building at 103-109 State Street was also used for city offices.

Brookland City Hall and Firehouse Building on Center Street built in 1925
Fires
In its first two decades as an incorporated town, Brookland was plagued with many multi-structure fires. Two of these blazes, on October 2, 1895 and February 26, 1906, each destroyed 11 buildings and damaged several others.

But the worst fire occurred on the evening of March 4, 1905 and nearly wiped out the town. This disastrous fire destroyed at least 47 buildings, including the US Post Office, Brookland Baptist Church, 31 residences, 11 businesses, and three halls used by fraternal organizations. Of the 31 residences that burned, 15 were mill village houses belonging to the Columbia Mills.

Brookland Develops and Becomes West Columbia
But with each fire, Brookland would bounce back and rebuild. And as the decades went by, it developed into a thriving municipality with vigorous business, educational, church, and leisure aspects of life. By the 1930s there were quite a few strong business concerns in Brookland such as Roof Basket Works, Stein King Beer Company, Brookland Ice and Fuel, Hite’s Sign Company, Lexington Building & Loan, and Thompson Funeral Home. The Brookland-Cayce school system provided a proficient first-through-eleventh grade education and there were churches of practically every major denomination.

Brookland also came to associate more and more with its larger neighbor across the river. Its residents often went to Columbia for shopping and entertainment and over 50% of them worked in the capital city. By the mid-1930s, a sentiment was growing to change the city’s name to West Columbia to reflect this relationship. In 1937, Brookland officials decided to petition the state legislature for a name change. As a result, an act changing the name of Brookland to West Columbia passed both houses of the General Assembly. It became law on April 21, 1938 after being signed by Governor Olin D. Johnston.

SOURCES
  • “A Lively Race”. The State, Columbia, SC, January 19, 1895, page 5.
  • Ancestry.com. Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, page 197. https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1932/ (accessed April 19, 2020)
  • “Brookland Across the Bridge.” The State, Columbia, SC, March 11, 1891, page 9.
  • “Brookland Elections.” The State, Columbia, SC, May 14, 1899, page 2.
  • “Brookland Fights Fire Fiend Again.” The State, Columbia, SC, February 27, 1906, page 1.
  • “Brookland Gets Charter.” The State, Columbia, SC, September 26, 1911, page 1.
  • “Brookland Has a Second Destructive Fire.” The State, Columbia, SC, April 13, 1898, page 8.
  • “Brookland’s Election.” The State, Columbia, SC, January 31, 1895, page 8.
  • “Brookland’s Mails.” The State, Columbia, SC, December 25, 1891, page 8.
  • “Columbia’s Neighbor Across the Congaree River.” The State, Columbia, SC, January 29, 1922, page 3.
  • Douglas, C. M. The Columbia City Directory, 1895. Columbia, SC: The State Company, 1895.
  • “Half of Brookland Consumed by Fire.” The State, Columbia, SC, March 5, 1905, page 1.
  • Hill’s Columbia City Directory, 1938. Richmond, VA: Hill Directory Company, 1938.
  • “Industries of Columbia.” The State, Columbia, SC, June 4, 1895, page 1.
  • “It’s an Electric Mill.” The State, Columbia, SC, June 3, 1894, page 2.
  • “It’s Mayor Witt.” The State, Columbia, SC, February 3, 1895, page 5.
  • “It’s West Columbia.” The State, Columbia, SC, April 22, 1938, page 2.
  • “Mayor and Aldermen Selected by Columbia’s Thriving Suburb”. The State, Columbia, SC, May 15, 1900, page 2.
  • Neumann, Caryn E. "Columbia Mills." South Carolina Encyclopedia, 2016. http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/columbia-mills/ (accessed April 19, 2020)
  • “New Brookland and Cayce Thriving, Progressive Places.” The State, Columbia, SC, November 11, 1909, page 11.
  • “New Brookland, Live, Progressive, and Growing.” The State, Columbia, SC, June 28, 1936, page 1-D.
  • “New Brookland Visited by Fire.” The State, Columbia, SC, March 31, 1909, page 1.
  • “No Mushroom About This.” The State, Columbia, SC, January 22, 1894, page 8.
  • “Notice of Opening Books of Subscription of the Columbia Mills Company.” The State, Columbia, SC, January 28, 1893, page 4.
  • “The Brookland Fire Brought Large Loss.” The State, Columbia, SC, March 6, 1905, page 8.
  • “The Cotton to the Canal.” The State, Columbia, SC, February 3, 1893, page 8.
  • “The State’s Survey.” The State, Columbia, SC, April 25, 1894, page 4.
  • United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html (accessed April 29, 2020).
  • United States Census Bureau. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/tables.2018.html (accessed April 29, 2020).
  • “Will Make Cloth This Week.” The State, Columbia, SC, July 2, 1894, page 8.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Confederate Currency Printers in Columbia, SC

by Paul Armstrong
October 10, 2019
Updated April 15, 2020

Click on photos to enlarge.


“None of it [Confederate money] was printed in the Gervais Street plant, which was used for other printing and lithographing business of Evans and Cogswell.”
- James F. Williams, as quoted in The State, October 7, 1930

One of the more notable historic landmarks in Columbia is the building along the north side of Gervais Street between Huger and Pulaski Streets that currently houses a Publix Supermarket and the Estates on Gervais Townhomes.  I have always heard that Confederate money was manufactured at this location.  However, while doing research on another subject, I came across a 1930 article in The State newspaper which contained the above quote by James F. Williams. This claim, made by an eyewitness who lived in Columbia during the Civil War, was counter to what I had always heard. Williams’ quote aroused my interest and inspired me to research the story of where, and by whom, Confederate currency was printed in Columbia. This article relates what I have found.

In 1861, the Confederate States Congress decided to begin issuing treasury notes (paper currency)1 as a medium of exchange and method for financing the costs of running the new government and a military at war. The responsibility for manufacturing, finishing, and distributing this currency fell to the Secretary of the Treasury, Charlestonian Christopher Memminger. Instead of creating a government-run engraving and printing operation, Memminger decided to contract with private printing firms to produce treasury notes.  A Treasury Note Division of the Treasury Department – later the Treasury Note Bureau2 - was created to manage these contractors.  Initially, these firms and their printing plants were in the Confederate capital, Richmond, and included Keatinge & Ball, Blanton Duncan, Hoyer & Ludwig, and others.  In order to ensure consistency in the notes, Memminger decided to have only one firm, Keatinge & Ball, do the engraving.  All the printers were required to use plates engraved by Keatinge & Ball to produce the treasury notes.

By early April 1862, Union General George B McClellan had transported over 100,000 troops to the lower end of the Virginia peninsula and moved within 65 miles of the Confederate capital.  McClellan’s goal was to drive up the peninsula and capture Richmond.  Understandably, the possibility that Richmond might fall caused great concern within the Confederate government. So, on April 18, 1862, Memminger gave orders to move the Treasury Note Division to Columbia which was well away from the front lines and considered safe.  He requested that the contractors relocate their currency printing operations to South Carolina’s capital city.  Two of the firms, Blanton Duncan and Keatinge & Ball, agreed and immediately began preparing to set up plants in Columbia.  The other printing firms in Richmond declined to make the move south.

By the end of May 1862, Columbia had become the center of Confederate treasury note production with three firms carrying out contracts from printing plants on Main Street.3 These three were Blanton Duncan, Keatinge & Ball, and James T. Paterson.  A fourth firm, Evans & Cogswell, was added in early 1863.

Click to enlarge.


Blanton Duncan
Kentucky native Blanton Duncan, a lawyer by training, was the son of a wealthy US congressman who moved to Europe in 1861 to avoid taking sides in the Civil War.  In contrast to his father’s decision, Blanton Duncan chose the Confederacy, raised a volunteer regiment in Kentucky, and received a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel.  After failing as a military leader and experiencing a near mutiny by his troops, Duncan resigned his commission and went to Richmond. There he set up a printing shop and talked his way into a treasury note contract.  He moved to Columbia in May of 1862 in order to continue his contract with the Treasury Note Division. Duncan set up his printing plant on the second floor of Charles Beck’s building on the southeast corner of Main and Washington Streets where the Barringer Building is now.4


Confederate $10 Note
Engraved by Keatinge & Ball and Printed by Blanton Duncan in Columbia

Florida State University Digital Repository

In April 1863, Memminger reset the printing contracts and took new proposals from the contractors in Columbia. Duncan’s bid was significantly higher than the others and was rejected.  After losing his treasury note contract, Duncan continued his printing operation for a few months, completing other existing contracts and producing commercial products, notably sheet music.  By early 1864, Duncan had left Columbia after selling his printing plant to Pierre Valory and Henry Gray. He made his way to Europe where he stayed until after the end of the war.5

Keatinge & Ball
Englishman Edward Keatinge was an expert engraver who had previously worked for the American Bank Note Company in New York City.  Memminger recruited him to do engravings for the Treasury Note Division and he formed a company with Virginian Thomas A. Ball for that purpose. Due to Keatinge’s superior engraving work and a need for consistency, Keatinge & Ball were selected as the sole engraving firm for Confederate Treasury notes.  They engraved and printed notes in Richmond from August 1861 until April 1862 when they accepted Memminger’s request to move operations to Columbia.

Keatinge & Ball’s first location in Columbia was on the second floor of the Hussung Building at the northeast corner of Main and Pendleton Streets where the Edgar Brown Building stands today.  In May of 1863, Keatinge & Ball purchased the City Hotel building and moved their printing plant.  This new, more spacious facility was on the southwest corner of Main and Laurel Streets where City Hall is now.

Confederate $1 Note 
Engraved and Printed by Keatinge & Ball in Columbia

As General William T. Sherman’s troops approached Columbia, Keatinge & Ball were forced to allow their engraving plates and some of their equipment to be moved along with the fleeing Treasury Note Bureau.  Their building and remaining equipment were destroyed in the conflagration that swept Columbia’s Main Street during the night of February 17-18, 1865.

James T. Paterson
A Scottish immigrant, James T. Paterson was a practicing dentist in Augusta, GA, prior to the Civil War. At some point he became interested in engraving and printing and spent most of 1861 in Richmond, VA, learning the craft from firms in that city. When the Richmond firm of Hoyer & Ludwig declined to move to Columbia with the Treasury Note Division, Paterson bought out their treasury note contracts and the equipment they used for those contracts.  He moved the equipment to Columbia and set up a printing plant on the second floor of the Stanley Building which was on the west side of what is now the 1400 block of Main Street.  Paterson’s company printed treasury notes in Columbia from May of 1862 until April of 1864 when he lost his contract with the Treasury Note Bureau.

Confederate $5 Note 
Engraved by Keatinge & Ball and Printed by James T. Paterson in Columbia

Around the same time that he set up shop in Columbia, Paterson assembled a printing plant in Augusta on the second floor of a building at the corner of Broad and McIntosh Streets.  From the Augusta plant, Paterson’s company engraved and printed postage stamps for the Confederate Post Office.  He also entered into contracts with North Carolina, Alabama, and other states to engrave and print state currency and other security instruments.  After losing his treasury note contract, Paterson closed his Columbia plant and continued his printing operations in Augusta until the end of the war.

Evans & Cogswell
With roots dating back to 1821, Walker, Evans & Cogswell operated a binding, printing, and stationery business with offices at 3 Broad and 103 East Bay Streets in Charleston.  After John C. Walker died in 1860, Benjamin Evans and Harvey Cogswell continued the firm and changed the name to Evans & Cogswell. The well-respected firm printed and published Bibles, popular novels and nonfiction editions, textbooks, and other commercial products.  When the Confederate States were formed, the firm began to contract with the Confederate government and military to produce products such as general orders, maps, forms, blank books, etc.  Their most famous publication was South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession.

After treasury note operations were relocated from Richmond to Columbia, Treasury Secretary Memminger soon realized the three firms there were not able to keep up with the demand.  So, in October 1862, Memminger asked Evans & Cogswell to establish a branch plant in Columbia and take on a contract for printing Confederate currency. Evans & Cogswell agreed and set up a printing plant for this purpose on the second floor of the Kinsler Building at the northwest corner of Main and Taylor Streets.  The building, located where Mast General Store is now, had a spacious hall on the second floor which had previously served as a venue for banquets, balls, operas, plays, etc.  This location was especially convenient for Evans and Cogswell since the Confederate Treasury Note Division/Bureau operated out of offices on the third floor of the same structure.

Confederate $5 Note 
Engraved by Keatinge & Ball and Printed by Evans & Cogswell in Columbia

After opening their treasury note branch in Columbia by early 1863, Evans & Cogswell continued their general printing business at their main location in Charleston.  Examples of books they printed in Charleston during 1863 are Benton’s Heavy Artillery and a novel, Macaria, by Augusta Jane Evans.  They also did work there for the Confederate military such as printing general orders and maps.

Then, in August 1863, Union artillery began a bombardment of Charleston that would last until the end of the war.  Artillery batteries, built in the marsh of Morris Island, rained deadly incendiary shells down on all parts of Charleston south of Calhoun Street.  When the State Bank building next door to Evans & Cogswell was hit, the printing firm decided Charleston was no longer safe and that they should move all their operations to Columbia.


So, Evans & Cogswell secured property on the north side of Gervais Street between Pulaski and Huger Streets, put up four brick walls, covered half the structure with a roof, and finished that half.6  They set up a printing plant in the finished part of the building, and moved their non-treasury note operations into this new facility. They continued printing Confederate currency in the Main Street facility and used the Gervais Street building for the other part of their business that had previously been done in Charleston.  By February 15, 1864, they were advertising their new plant capabilities and the publication of some 20 books including Chisolm’s Surgery by Julian J Chisolm and Phillip, a novel by William H Thackeray.  They also had a contract to print 100,000 New Testaments for the Confederate States’ Bible Society. All total in the combined Columbia facilities, Evans & Cogswell could boast of 72 printing presses and 24 binding machines.

Evans & Cogswell Invoice Letterhead from January 1865 Listing Both Columbia Locations

Evans & Cogswell continued treasury note operations on Main Street – as well as the general printing work in the new plant on Gervais Street – until being forced to evacuate Columbia with the Treasury Note Bureau ahead of Union troops.  Both of Evans & Cogswell’s plants were destroyed during the occupation of Columbia in February 1865. Though all but wiped out by the effects of the war, Evans & Cogswell were able to reestablish their business in Charleston in December 1865 with new partner Irvin Walker.  The firm, again named Walker, Evans & Cogswell, continued to do business in the Holy City until 1987.

The End
With Sherman’s army approaching Columbia in February 1865, the Confederate Treasury Bureau, along with the Evans and Cogswell firm, evacuated Columbia and eventually relocated to Greenville.  They were able to successfully transport approximately thirty-five printing presses from Evans & Cogswell’s plant, the engraving plates from Keatinge and Ball, and a small amount of ink, paper and other supplies.  However, before treasury note operations could be put in operation in Greenville, the Confederacy had collapsed.

Summary
The Confederate government did not own or operate facilities for engraving or printing currency.  Instead, they contracted with private companies for the engraving and printing of treasury notes.  Four of these companies produced Confederate treasury notes at plants located on Main Street in Columbia between 1862 and 1865.  One of these companies also built a plant on Gervais Street for their general publishing business.  Confederate currency engraving and printing took place on Main Street, not in the Gervais Street building where Publix and Estates on Gervais are now located.7



NOTES
  1. The Confederate States government contracted for the manufacture of paper currency in the form of treasury notes but did not mint Confederate coins beyond the evaluation stage.  They took over the United States mints in New Orleans, LA, Charlotte, NC, and Dahlonega, GA, and continued to produce US coins at those facilities for a while.  An effort to mint Confederate coins in New Orleans was cut short when that city fell to US forces.  Only four sample half-dollar coins were struck for evaluation before New Orleans was occupied in May 1862.  No Confederate coins were released into circulation.
  2. The Treasury Department’s Treasury Note Division officially became a bureau on February 3, 1864 by act of the Confederate States Congress.
  3. Main Street was officially named Richardson Street until 1892.  The name Main Street is used in this article because that is what readers will understand.  This moniker would have also been understood by Columbians during the Civil War because the street was often referred to as Main Street long before that was its official name.
  4. Blanton Duncan’s printing plant occupied an upstairs space that had previously been the site of the Columbia Athenaeum from 1856-1860.  In fact, the location was sometimes still referred to as the Athenaeum Building or Athenaeum Corner. The Athenaeum was a library, reading room, and lecture hall.
  5. While in Columbia, Blanton Duncan bought a house already in course of construction on Gervais Street where he and his family made their residence.  The house later served as General William T. Sherman’s headquarters and eventually became known as the Mimnaugh House.  It was demolished in 1962 to make way for an addition to the Town House Hotel.
  6. There is no indication that Evans & Cogswell ever completed the remainder of the roof and interior of the building on Gervais Street.
  7. James Williams, who served as a teenaged office boy for Keatinge & Ball during this time, said there was no Confederate money printed at the Gervais Street location.  His statement was made in 1930 from memories of over 65 years earlier and he may not have been aware of everything that occurred at Evans & Cogswell.  So, it is possible that Evans & Cogswell may have supplemented their Main Street plant by printing some currency at their Gervais Street plant.  However, most, and probably all, of the treasury notes manufactured in Columbia were engraved and printed in plants on Main Street.


SOURCES
  • “A Gigantic Publishing House.” Semi-Weekly Observer, Fayetteville, NC, June 27, 1864, page 1.
  • “A Trip South.” Fayetteville Weekly Observer, Fayetteville, NC, March 9, 1863, page 3.
  • “Blanton Duncan.” Edgefield Advertiser, Edgefield, SC, February 18, 1863, page 4.
  •  “Blanton Duncan Lithography.” The New York Times, New York, NY, August 15, 1862, page 2.
  • “Blanton Duncan.” The Daily Southern Guardian, Columbia, SC, Jul 26, 1862, page 1.
  •  “Correspondence from Columbia, SC.” The Fayetteville Observer, Fayetteville, NC, March 23, 1863, page 1.
  • “Columbia’s Old Confederate Mint Was Never Anything of the Sort.” The State, Columbia, SC, October 7, 1930, page 14.
  • “Counterfeits.” Yorkville Enquirer, York, SC, May 20, 1863, page 2.
  • “Comptroller’s Report.” Semi-Weekly Standard, Raleigh, NC, December 29, 1863, page 2.
  • “Dr J. T. Paterson, Dentist.” The Daily Constitutionalist, Augusta, GA, June 24, 1859, page 4,
  • Evans & Cogswell Advertisement. The Daily Confederate, Raleigh, NC, February 17, 1864, page 1.
  • Evans & Cogswell Invoice for Treasury Department dated January 15, 1865. Citizens Files, fold3.com, Jan 15, 1865. https://www.fold3.com/image/30971929 (accessed October 4, 2019)
  • Evans & Cogswell Invoice for General Beauregard dated February 28, 1863. Citizens Files, fold3.com. https://www.fold3.com/image/30971911 (accessed October 4, 2019)
  • Fricke, Pierre. Confederate Currency. Oxford, UK: Shire Publications, 2012, pages 21-23.
  • “General Orders.” The Daily Confederate, Raleigh, NC, April 8, 1864, page 2.
  • Green, Edwin. "University Notes." The State, Columbia, SC, February 7, 1938, page 11.
  • Hershman, J T. Columbia City Directory. Columbia, SC: R W Gibbes, 1859, page 67.
  • Hessler, Gene. The Engraver's Line: An Encyclopedia of Paper Money & Postage Stamp Art. Port Clinton, OH: BNR Press, 1993, page 187.
  • “Keatinge & Ball.” Weekly Advertiser, Montgomery, AL, December 17, 1862, page 4.
  •  “Large Warehouse Sold Yesterday.” The State, Columbia, SC, November 5, 1912, page 12.
  • Letter from Evans & Cogswell to Sanders Jamison dated December 31, 1864.  Citizens Files, fold3.com. https://www.fold3.com/image/30971948 (accessed October 4, 2019)
  • “Lithographic Engraving and Printing Establishment.” The Daily Constitutionalist, Augusta, GA, August 19, 1862, page 3.
  • “Lithographic Establishment of J. T. Patterson & Co.” The Daily Southern Guardian, Columbia, SC, August 13, 1862.
  • “Macaria.” Richmond Dispatch, Richmond, VA, December 10, 1863, page 2.
  • “Mercantile Changes on Broad Street and Vicinity.” Daily Constitutionalist, Augusta, GA, April 5, 1864.
  • “Messrs. Keatinge & Ball…” Yorkville Enquirer, York, SC, May 6, 1863, page 2.
  • Moore, John Hammond. Columbia & Richland County. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1993, pages 50-51.
  • “New Books Just Published by Evans & Cogswell.” The Camden Confederate, Camden, SC, July 14, 1864, page 2.
  • North Carolina Map Blog. “James T Paterson –Confederate Dentist and Map Publisher.” William P Cumming Map Society, 2016. https://blog.ncmaps.org/index.php/james-t-paterson/ (accessed September 3, 2019)
  • “Old Dispensary Building.” The State, Columbia, SC, February 17, 1930, page 10.
  • “Our Charleston Printers.” Daily Courier, Natchez, Mississippi, MS, March 13, 1963, page 2.
  • “Printing, Binding, Paper, etc.” Daily Confederate, Raleigh, NC, Feb 17, 1864, page 1.
  • Rice, James Henry. 100 years of WECCO: a history of the Walker, Evans & Cogswell Company manufacturing stationers, 1821-1921. Charleston, SC: Walker, Evans & Cogswell, 1921.
  • Scott, Edwin J. Random Recollections of a LongLife 1806-1876. Columbia, SC: Charles A Calvo, Jr, 1884, page 107.
  • Selby, Julian A. Columbia City Directory. Columbia, SC: R W Gibbes, 1860, page 20.
  • Simms, William Gilmore. A City Laid Waste: The Capture, Sack, and Destruction of the City of Columbia. edited by David Aiken, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2005, pages 58, 59, 68.
  • The contents of Abraham Lincoln's pocketson the evening of his assassination. N. D. Online Text. https://www.loc.gov/item/scsm001049/ (accessed October 6, 2019)
  • “The Seven Days Battles.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, August 23, 1862, page 2.
  • Todd, Cecil. Confederate Finance. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2009, pages 85-120.
  • Watkins, R A. Directory for the City of Augusta. Augusta, GA: R A Watkins, 1859, page 111.
  • “We have ascertained…” Weekly Advertiser, Montgomery, AL, April 5, 1864, page 3.
  • Williams, James Franklin. Old and New Columbia. Columbia, SC: Epworth Orphanage Press, 1929, page 105.



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Streets Paved with Wooden Blocks?

by Paul Armstrong
April 23, 2019
Updated May 2, 2019


Louis Regal's Newsstand on Washington Street, 1924
Courtesy of the Richland County Public Library
Did you know that parts of two downtown streets in Columbia were once paved with wooden blocks?

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Although some of Charleston’s streets had been paved for over a hundred years, Columbia had no paved streets until 1908.  Between April of 1908 and March of 1909, Main Street was paved from Union Station south of Wheat Street to Bryan Street north of Elmwood Avenue.  Two blocks of Main, between Blossom Street and the Southern Railway tracks at Union Station, were paved with vitrified brick.  The additional 15 blocks of Main were surfaced with bitulithic pavement (an asphalt-like material). Then, for over two years Main Street was the only paved street in Columbia.

In 1911, City Council contracted for the paving of 25 blocks of city streets to be completed by early 1912 with three different paving materials.  Most of the surfacing was done with bitulithic pavement, but Gervais Street, between Main and Pulaski, was paved with vitrified brick to provide traction on the steep grade.  The property owners on Hampton and Washington Streets between Sumter and Assembly, however, chose to petition City Council to surface their streets with creosote-treated wooden blocks, also known as Nicolson pavement.
 
Map Indicating Wooden Block Pavement on Hampton and Washington Streets, 1919
1919 Sanborn Insurance Maps of Columbia, SC
South Caroliniana Library Digital Collections

So, in the second half of 1911, Columbia contractors, Weston & Brooker, surfaced the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Hampton and Washington Streets with creosote-treated wooden blocks. The blocks were made of black gum and were manufactured in Portsmouth, NH. The contractors poured a five-inch concrete base followed by a half-inch mortar bed in which the wooden blocks were set.

Wooden Blocks on Washington Street, 1924
Photo Courtesy of Richland County Public Library
 Wooden block pavement was common in many US cities during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Indeed, quite a few streets with wooden block pavement still exist today.  Examples include Roslyn Place in Pittsburg, Hessler Court in Cleveland, several alleys in Chicago, and a block of Camac Street in Philadelphia.  Compared to other road surfacing materials of the time, wooden block pavement was cheaper, muffled the noise of horse’s hoofs and carriage wheels, and caused fewer cases of shin splints in horses.  But it had its disadvantages.  The wooden surfaces tended to wear down and require replacement quicker than other pavement materials. And, as Columbians would find out, they would occasionally buckle after dry spells and float away in southern rain storms.

Roslyn Place, Pittsburg, 2016
From Interesting Pennsylvania and Beyond
 On the evening of August 5, 1914, a T-shaped portion of Washington Street between Main and Sumter buckled.  The upheaval ran about 40 feet down the center of the street with a 20-foot line forming the top of the T.  It only took five laborers three hours to repair the damage, but city leaders and citizens were concerned.  The Columbia area had experienced a long dry spell followed by rain on August 4 and 5.  City officials believed the buckling was due to the parched condition of the wooden blocks caused by the dry spell and the fact that, at that time, cars parked in the center of the street rather than at the curb which shielded that portion from the rain.  In addition, the surface had not been sprinkled with water hoses on a regular basis as recommended.  An independent engineer from St Louis inspected the pavement later in August, found it to be in good shape, and determined that the buckling was not a serious issue.

On June 25, 1923, a heavy afternoon rainfall caused serious flooding in several areas around Columbia and caused considerable damage to dirt roads, drains, and pipelines throughout the city.  During this downpour, wooden blocks on both Hampton and Washington Streets came loose and floated away.  Some of these blocks were found several blocks away.  A similar deluge on March 20, 1924 swept a number of the wooden blocks from Hampton Street between Main and Sumter.  The blocks were carried several hundred feet from their starting point.  In both of these instances the missing blocks were found and reinstalled without serious issues.

In addition to the three incidents mentioned above, I found a good many comments in the newspapers indicating problems with the wooden pavement on Hampton and Washington Streets.  These comments were not specific but indicated that the wooden pavement required frequent repair and was in an unsatisfactory condition by the mid-1920s. So, in June of 1925, City Council authorized the city engineer to advertise for bids to replace the wooden blocks with asphalt pavement.

In August of 1925, the Southern Paving Construction Company of Chattanooga, TN, began the work of removing the wooden blocks and replacing them with sheet asphalt poured on the existing concrete base.  The work was completed by the end of September at a cost of $15,300 (equivalent to over $200,000 in 2019).  This ended Columbia’s experiment with wooden block pavement.


Sources:
  •  “Street Paving Has Commenced.” The State, Columbia, SC, April 30, 1908, page 10.
  • “Street Paving Begins Today.” The State, Columbia, SC, July 13, 1908, page 8.
  • “Street Paving Recommenced.” The state, Columbia, SC, July 14, 1908, page 10.
  •  “Will Finish the Paving Next Week.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, March 4, 1909, page 1.
  •  “Petitions for Street paving.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, March 16, 1911, page 9.
  • “Street Paving was Selected.” The State, Columbia, SC, April 13, 1911, page 6.
  • “Block Paving About Ready.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, April 17, 1911, page 8.
  • “Engine House Will Be Moved.” The State, Columbia, SC, April 26, 1911, page 12.
  • “Getting Ready for Paving Work.” The State, Columbia, SC, May 13, 1911, page 9.
  • “Getting Ready to Pave Streets.” The State, Columbia, SC, June 4, 1911, page 11.
  • “Hackberries are Doomed.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, June 30, 1911, page 9.
  • “Some Trees to Remain on Washington Street.” The State, Columbia, SC, July 1, 1911, page 8.
  • “Paving Assessment Matter Considered.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, July 12, 1911, page 10.
  • “Lay the Wooden Blocks.” The State, Columbia, SC, July 28, 1911, page 10.
  • “Brick Paving Begins Soon.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, September 1, 1911, page 10.
  • “Council to Pave Hampton Street.” The State, Columbia, SC, September 12, 1911, page 9.
  • “Two Blocks to be Paved.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, September 25, 1911, page 10.
  • “Real Paving Underway.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, October 2, 1911, page 2.
  • “Much Paving of Streets.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, November 13, 1911, page 5.
  • “Require Paving Railway Tracks?” The State, Columbia, SC, November 15, 1911, page 10.
  • “Paving Work Under Way.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, November 17, 1911, page 6.
  • “Carolina’s Capital Active in Business.” The State, Columbia, SC, December 25, 1911, page 8.
  • “Much Activity in Street Dept.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, February 13, 1912, page 10.
  • “Paving Bids were Opened.” The Daily Record, Columbia, SC, February 20, 1912, page 8.
  • “Upheaval of Wooden Pavement.” The State, Columbia, SC, August 6, 1914, page 5.
  • “Buckling is Not at All Serious.” The State, Columbia, SC, August 28, 1914, page 5.
  • Insurance Maps of Columbia South Carolina. New York, NY, Sanborn Map Company, 1919, page 3.
  • “Wooden Blocks Give Trouble.” The Columbia Record, Columbia, SC, October 14, 1919, page 4.
  • “Rushing Waters Damage Streets.” The State, Columbia, SC, June 27, 1923, page 6.
  • “Heavy Rainfall Damage Streets.” The State, Columbia, SC, March 22, 1924, page 10.
  • “Pavement Will Replace Blocks.” The Columbia Record, Columbia, SC, June 23, 1925, page 5.
  • “Notice to Paving Contractors.” The State, Columbia, SC, June 28, 1925, page 13.
  • “Council to Meet.” The State, Columbia, SC, July 13, 1925, page 8.
  • “Awards Contract for Paving Job.” The State, Columbia, SC, July 15, 1925, page 12.
  • “Take up Tracks on Hampton St.” The Columbia Record, Columbia, SC, September 8, 1925, page 8.
  • “Old Wooden Blocks Now Being Removed.” The Columbia Record, Columbia, SC, September 10, 1925, page 10.
  • “Fourth Block to be Paved Started.” The Columbia Record, Columbia, SC, September 29, 1925, page 2.
  • Bibb, Leon. “Walking a Cleveland Street Paved Completely of Wood is Walking a Pathway to the Past.” NewsNet5.com. https://web.archive.org/web/20140519203953/http:/www.newsnet5.com/news/local-news/my-ohio/walking-a-cleveland-street-paved-completely-of-wood-is-walking-a-pathway-to-the-past (Accessed on April 20, 2019.)
  • Dave. “The Surprising Streets of Pittsburgh. Interesting Pennsylvania and Beyond. http://www.interestingpennsylvania.com/2016/09/the-surprising-streets-of-pittsburgh.html (Accessed on April 20, 2019.)
  • Hahn, Ashley. “Camac Street’s Wooden Blocks Repaired.” Eyes on the Street. http://planphilly.com/eyesonthestreet/2012/11/05/camac-streets-wooden-blocks-repaired (Accessed on April 20, 2019.)
  • Jones, Diana Nelson. “Shadyside’s Wooden Street Paves Its Way to Greatness.” Pittsburg Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/life/lifestyle/2004/03/21/Shadyside-s-wooden-street-paves-its-way-to-greatness/stories/200403210204 (Accessed on April 20, 2019.)
  • Walker, Brett. “Revisited Myth #54.” History Myths Debunked. https://historymyths.wordpress.com/tag/ballast-paving-streets/ (Accessed on April 20, 2019.)


Friday, April 5, 2019

Bridging the Congaree (1)

By Paul Armstrong
April 6, 2019 
Updates: April 23, 2019; May 31, 2019; July 7, 2019


Gervais Street Bridge, 2019
Photo by Eden Armstrong
Hail to the time when I shall see
Thy smiling banks, sweet Congaree!
And when I shall be ferried across,
And see thy trees all covered with moss. (2)


Ferries

For nearly 70 years before Columbia was founded, there were forts, trading posts, and settlements on the west side of the Congaree River in what is now Cayce. This location became part of Saxe-Gotha township in 1733.  By 1745, Swiss immigrant Martin Friday (nee Fridig) had acquired land along the Congaree and began operating an informal, private ferry across the river connecting Saxe-Gotha to the eastern bank and the area that would become Richland County. By act of the provincial government in 1754, Friday was vested with the rights to operate a public toll ferry at that location.  The west landing of Friday’s Ferry and the settlement around it were situated along the river just southeast of where the Cayce Quarry is located now. Martin Friday died in 1758 and the rights to the ferry passed to his heirs.

By the 1780s, the settlement around the western end of Friday’s Ferry had come to be known as Granby.  In 1785, Wade Hampton and his brother, Richard, purchased Friday’s Ferry and were granted exclusive rights by the state legislature to operate a toll ferry at Granby for fourteen years.  No one else was permitted to operate a ferry within three miles on either side of Friday’s Ferry.  On the opposite side of the river, a smaller settlement known as East Granby, sprang up at the eastern landing of Friday’s Ferry.  From East Granby, a road was developed to connect the ferry to what is now downtown Columbia.

As Columbia was established, Richard Hampton purchased land on opposite sides of the Congaree River at the foot of Senate Street. He intended to establish a ferry there but had not done so by the time he died in 1792.  Seven years after Richard’s death, his son, Henry P Hampton, was granted rights to half of the profits from the operations of a toll ferry across the Congaree River from the west end of Senate Street in Columbia.  The remaining half of the profits were designated to benefit the Columbia Academy.  This ferry was known as the Columbia Ferry and these same ferry rights were renewed by the legislature in 1814 and 1821.

By the mid-1820s, Friday’s Ferry had been acquired by Nicholas Hayne of Lexington and the Columbia Ferry was owned by Elisha Daniel of Richland County.


Wade Hampton’s Bridges

Ferry crossings for commerce and everyday travel were difficult and risky.  Several prosperous landowners in the area had property as well as agricultural and other enterprises on both sides of the Congaree.  They sought a more efficient way to traverse the river. So, between 1789 and 1796, Wade Hampton built at least three bridges over the Congaree in the vicinity of Friday’s Ferry at Granby. These bridges were destroyed by three of the disastrous floods that plagued the Congaree floodplain during the 1790s. (3)

Wade Hampton I
New York Public Library
On July 1, 1789, Wade Hampton petitioned the state legislature for the right to build a toll bridge over the Congaree at Friday’s Ferry. A subsequent House Journal entry indicates the bridge had been built and was in existence as of January 20, 1790.  Then, the Charleston City Gazette referenced an eye witness account saying the bridge at Granby was carried away by flood waters on March 29, 1790. 

Hampton was determined and decided to build again. On February 17, 1791, the state legislature enacted a statute granting Wade Hampton the rights to build a toll bridge over the Congaree near the location of Friday’s Ferry at Granby.  Hampton began construction of the bridge which was nearly completed when it, too, was swept away by flood waters in April of 1792.  This devastating freshet also wiped out the fledgling new town of Pinckneyville as well as John Compty’s bridge over the Broad River north of Columbia.

So, Hampton went back to the drawing board to come up with a bridge design that would better withstand the regularly recurring freshets on the Congaree.  His novel design was a curvilinear structure arched in the upstream direction.  This third bridge was 700 feet long with piers made of strong timbers set in water sills that were fastened with iron bolts to the stone beneath the river.  The bridge was 40 feet above the normal level of the water and the central span was nearly 100 feet long to allow large debris to pass through in the event of flooding. Unfortunately, the new design was insufficient to withstand the Great Yazoo Freshet of January 1796, and, for the third time, Wade Hampton had a bridge destroyed by flooding.  It would be 30 years before another attempt to bridge the Congaree was made. (4)


1827 Congaree Bridge at Gervais Street

After over two decades without a bridge over the Congaree River, citizens of Columbia began petitioning for one.   In 1818, the General Assembly granted the Columbia Bridge Company a charter to build toll bridges over the Congaree, Saluda, and Broad Rivers near Columbia.  The company failed to raise the necessary funds to begin construction in the two years allotted by the General Assembly and, therefore, forfeited the rights to build.  So, the company reorganized in 1823 with adequate funding, and, in December, the General Assembly again granted the Columbia Bridge Company the rights to build a toll bridge over the Congaree.  This time the privileges came with the conditions that the bridge be completed within four years. Among the officers of the Columbia Bridge Company who orchestrated this successful effort were John Taylor (president), Abraham Blanding (vice-president), and James T Goodwyn (secretary).

1827 Congaree Bridge with the Cover Being Constructed
Colorized version of an 1828 sketch by British Naval Captain Basil Hall
The company went straight to work, hiring William Briggs to design a plan for the bridge.  Briggs’ plan was completed by March of 1824 and was immediately approved by the officers of the bridge company. Briggs was also contracted to build the bridge and construction began that same month. It was opened for traffic on April 4, 1827, within the four years stipulated by the General Assembly. The bridge was erected at the foot of Gervais Street and crossed the Congaree River where it is approximately 1,400 feet wide. The structure had nine masonry piers in the river plus stone abutments on the east and west banks.  The piers were made of granite from local quarries and were 33 feet wide and 12 feet thick at the base while narrowing to ten feet thickness at the top.  The ten-span superstructure was an overhead truss design and, according to the Columbia Telescope, was built “of wood from our best pine forests”. The wooden plank roadway stood 37 feet above the normal level of the water below.  Briggs’ design called for the bridge to be covered with a roof and weatherboard siding with windows for ventilation.  This covering was not there when the bridge opened for traffic and was added in 1828.  The cost of the construction was $80,000, which would be equivalent to just over $2 million in 2019.


1827 Congaree Bridge Span
Sketched in 1828 by British Naval Captain Basil Hall
From The State, July 5, 1953
On opening day, a dinner was held on the bridge in honor of the builder and to celebrate the structure’s completion. The event was attended by about 150 invited guests. Government officials present included SC Governor John Taylor, SC Public Works Superintendent Abraham Blanding, SC Comptroller General Alexander Speer, Judge Henry DeSaussure, and Columbia Intendant William F DeSaussure.  Many toasts were offered, and a good time of celebration was enjoyed by those present.


For 38 years the 1827 bridge withstood the frequent Congaree flooding but had one close call.  In August of 1852, heavy rains from the Great Mobile Hurricane caused one of the greatest freshets ever on the Congaree River.  The resulting floods overflowed the banks with swirling water full of debris.  The waters rose up through the wooden roadway planks of the Columbia Bridge which remained intact.  But the Broad River Bridge north of Columbia was washed away and swept downstream, hitting and partially displacing one of the piers of the Columbia Bridge.  The bridge survived but was closed for weeks while the damaged pier was repaired.

Remains of the 1827 Congaree Bridge, 1865
Photo courtesy the Richland County Public Library
The bridge that had survived the worst of Mother Nature could not survive the torch. As Union troops approached Columbia in February of 1865, Confederate troops burned the wooden superstructure and roadbed of the 1827 bridge leaving only the stone piers and abutments standing.  This, along with the destruction of the Saluda and Broad River bridges, only served to delay Major General William T Sherman’s army about a day.  Union engineers constructed a pontoon bridge upstream of the burned-out Broad River Bridge for the men of Major General John Logan’s Fifteenth Corps to march over and into Columbia. However, when Union troops departed the devastated city three days later, Columbia was left without a street bridge over any of its rivers for the first time since 1827. (5)



1872 Congaree Bridge at Gervais Street

As Columbians began to recover their city, they again had to rely on ferries to bring people, wagons, animals, and cargo across the Congaree.  First the Kinsler family, and then J Sanders Guignard, ran the Columbia Ferry.  But with delays due to rough or rising waters, along with other limitations of ferry carriage, the citizens and businessmen in Columbia felt the necessity of a bridge.  As time passed and the Broad River Bridge was rebuilt and completed in December of 1869, Columbians began to grow restless and unhappy that the Columbia Bridge Company was unable to rebuild their bridge over the Congaree.

Finally, in September of 1871, the state’s Comptroller General, John L Neagle, purchased all the stock of the Columbia Bridge Company with personal funds and promised to rebuild the bridge soon.  In February of 1872, Neagle requested proposals from bridge builders to rebuild the bridge with an iron superstructure after repairing the existing piers and raising them by three feet. By March 10 the contract had been awarded to Watson Manufacturing Company of Patterson, NJ.  Their winning proposal was for a superstructure of the Post combination truss design which was invented by Simeon S. Post in 1863.  E W Mercer was the Watson agent for the project and W J Pieleet was their project manager. 
1872 Congaree Bridge, 1900
Photo courtesy of  the Richland County Public Library

Work on the piers began on June 3, 1872 and the iron work for the superstructure arrived from New Jersey in late July.  Although early work on the superstructure was hampered by rising waters, the first span was completed by August 20.  The superstructure was completed in November and the wooden flooring was laid that same month. The final work was to raise the approach road on the Lexington side.  This was completed and the toll bridge was opened to traffic on December 9, 1872.

In 1873, John Neagle used the bridge company stock as collateral for a loan and a mortgage.  Less than four years later, Neagle, a member of the Republican administration during Reconstruction, left the state after the Democrats gained control of state government in April of 1877.  In November of that same year, all the shares of the Columbia Bridge Company were sold in foreclosure.  

As the combined population of Richland and Lexington Counties increased by 75% between 1870 and 1900, citizens of the area began calling for free bridges over the Congaree and Broad Rivers.  The toll rates were considered exorbitant and were particularly difficult for the Lexington County farmers who had to pay a toll to deliver their produce to markets in Columbia. On top of that, the Columbia Mills Company, which opened its plant on Gervais Street in 1894, built its mill village across the river in the newly incorporated town of Brookland (now West Columbia).  A pedestrian toll was required for mill workers to walk across the bridge to and from work each day. This put pressure on government officials to provide a free bridge.

1872 Congaree Bridge, During 1908 Flood
Courtesy of Richland County Public Library
After several failed attempts in the 1890s and 1900s, the Richland and Lexington County governments reached agreement with the bridge companies in 1911 for the purchase of the Congaree and Broad River bridges. The state legislature authorized a bond issue for this purpose, and, in early January of 1912, the bridges were opened to free traversal. 

After the bridges became free, the increased traffic and age began to take their toll on the Congaree Bridge.  Richland County was spending thousands annually on upkeep, but the bridge continued to deteriorate.  Three successive grand juries during the early 1920s declared the bridge a danger to the public. Then, on September 11, 1925, two large overhead cross beams fell from the bridge’s truss system onto the roadway of the bridge and traffic was suspended while they were replaced.  To make matters even worse, the Broad River Bridge was destroyed by fire on November 29, 1925.  This significantly increased the traffic on the Congaree Bridge as vehicles traveling to and from the Dutch Fork area, Newberry, and beyond were detoured through Lexington. The planning already underway for a replacement bridge became even more urgent.

After the new Gervais Street Bridge was opened in November of 1927, the old bridge was dismantled.  All that is left now are the west bank abutment and some of the granite blocks from the piers.  When the Congaree’s water level is low you can still see what remains of the 192-year-old granite piers peeking through the surface.


1927 Gervais Street Bridge

In 1924, a site survey was completed, and the state highway commission committed funding to build a modern bridge over the Congaree River to replace the aging and deteriorating 1872 bridge.  The highway department’s bridge team, under the direction of bridge engineer Joseph W Barnwell Jr, worked up the design which was approved by the highway commission in November of 1925.  Bids were requested beginning on November 15 and the construction contract was awarded in December to Hardaway Contracting Company of Columbus, GA.

Hardaway began site preparation work in February of 1926 and the actual bridge construction began on May 1. The bridge was completed and open to traffic at 5:00 PM on November 10, 1927.  The bridge’s roadway lighting system was furnished and installed in February of 1928 by Harrison-Wright Company of Charlotte.  The project was finally finished when the paving of roadway approaches was completed in June of 1929.  Gervais Street was surfaced with asphalt from the bridge to the existing pavement at Pulaski Street.  On the west side, Meeting Street was paved from the bridge to the top of the hill in Brookland. The entire project, including the lights and paving, cost approximately $600,000, the equivalent of over $8.7 million in 2019.

Current Gervais Street Bridge Under Construction, 1926
The old bridge is visible beside the new one.
Photo Courtesy of Richland County Public Library
During construction, two workmen lost their lives when they fell from the partially constructed bridge and drowned in the river.  The victims were F R Causby and T E Mullinex who died in separate accidents seven months apart. Causby, of Morganton, NC, fell into the river on December 30, 1926 when the construction cable car he was unloading jerked wildly and caused him to lose his balance.  He was carried downstream by the currents and his body was recovered three weeks later. Mullinex, from Anderson, SC, drowned on July 22, 1927, when a scaffolding board came loose and caused him to fall into the water.  His body was recovered that same morning.

Gervais Street Bridge Lamp Post, 2019
Photo by Eden Armstrong
After years of crossing a rickety bridge designed for pedestrians, equestrians, and animal-drawn vehicles, the citizens of Columbia and Brookland now had a splendid bridge designed to support motor vehicle traffic into the 21st century.  The new bridge’s roadway, at 36 feet, was the widest in the state at the time.  Additionally, a six-foot sidewalk on each side provided separate walking space so pedestrians no longer had to squeeze between motor vehicles and the side of the bridge superstructure.

This current bridge is 1,415 feet long and its innovative use of reinforced concrete required 1.5 million pounds of reinforcing steel and 52 million pounds of concrete.  The structure’s 132-foot arches are supported by ten reinforced concrete piers.  The cast iron light posts display images of the state's palmetto and crescent symbols and add to the majestic appearance of one of Columbia’s most photographed landmarks.




Additional Congaree River Bridges

The opening of the Blossom Street Bridge in 1953 gave Columbia two permanently coexisting bridges over the Congaree for the first time in history.  Then, in 1976, a third bridge was built connecting Columbia’s Hampton Street to the new Jarvis Klapman Boulevard in West Columbia. So today, three bridges over the Congaree River provide direct automobile access to the streets of Columbia’s city center. (6)

-------------------------

Notes:
  1. This article discusses non-railroad bridges over the Congaree River at Columbia, SC.  The histories of railroad bridges and bridges over the Broad and Saluda Rivers at or near Columbia are beyond the intended scope of this article.  David Brinkman has compiled a large amount of information on the history of the Broad River Bridges at this web page: http://dobrinkman.net/bridge/
  2. This poem is attributed to a student who attended South Carolina College when there was no bridge over the Congaree River. It was part of a letter sent to the editor of the Daily Phoenix and was printed in that newspaper on July 10, 1867.
  3. John Hammond Moore wrote that Wade Hampton built four bridges over the Congaree during the 1790s that were all destroyed by flooding, but he did not cite the source of this statement.
  4. In 1798, Wade Hampton petitioned the legislature for the right to rebuild his bridge since the two-year rebuilding time period allowed by the 1791 act had elapsed.   This request was granted by an act passed on December 21, 1798. However, according to Edwin Green, “The bridge authorized by this last Act was never built, so far as the evidence shows”.
  5. The Broad River bridge destroyed by flood in 1852 was replaced with a bridge built in 1858.  It was this 1858 Broad River Bridge that was burned by Confederates to delay Sherman’s entry into Columbia.
  6. The Interstate-77 bridge over the Congaree River is outside the Columbia City limits and serves a bypass highway rather than providing direct access to city streets.

Sources:

  • “A new town, in South-Carolina…” National Gazette, Philadelphia, PA, May 17, 1792, page 2.
  • “Bridge Beams Fall.” The State [Columbia, SC], September 11, 1925, page 2.
  • “Bridge Celebration.” The Columbia Telegraph [Columbia, SC], April 12, 1827, page 2-3.
  • “Bridge Foreman Drowns in River.” The State [Columbia, SC], December 31, 1926, page 12.
  • Brinkman, David.  “1818 and 1870 Surveys and 1939 Aerial photos pin-point Granby.” Finding Granby. http://www.historysoft.com/granby/1818_1870_granby.html  (Accessed March 15, 2019.)
  • “Broad River Bridge Destroyed by Fire.” The State [Columbia, SC], November 30, 1925, page 1-2.
  • Carrillo, Richard F. Archeological Excavations at Pinckneyville, Site of Pinckney District, 1791-1800. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology, 1972, page 8. https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=archanth_books (Accessed March 9, 2019.)
  • “Columbia---Her Beginning as a City.” The State [Columbia, SC], November 14, 1909, page 9.
  • “The Columbia Bridge Company”, The State [Columbia, SC], March 31, 1897, page 2.
  • “Columbia’s New Congaree River Span is 98 per cent Completed; Open Nov 1.” The Columbia Record [Columbia, SC], August 14, 1927, page 1.
  • "Completion of Neagle's Bridge." The Daily Phoenix [Columbia, SC], December 8, 1871, p. 2.
  • Drayton, John. A View of South Carolina. Charleston, SC: W P Young, 1802, page 32.
  • “Drowns in River after Fall from Congaree Bridge.” The Columbia Record [Columbia, SC], July 27, 1927, page 1.
  • Easterby, J H, ed., The Journal of the Commons House of Assembly, March 28, 1740 – March 19, 1750, Columbia, SC: South Carolina Archives Department, 1962, page 399.
  • Faust, D. Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina Passed in December 1818. Printed by D. Faust, 1819, pages 16-22.
  • Faust, D. Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina Passed in December 1819. Printed by D. Faust, 1820, pages 52-54.
  • Faust, D and J M. Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina Passed in December 1823. Printed by D. and J M Faust, 1824, Pages 41-43.
  • Green, Edwin L. A History of Richland County, Volume 1. Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc, 1996, pages 15-18, 113-114, 120-121.
  • Green Edwin L. “From an Old Newspaper.” The State [Columbia, SC], April 6, 1924, page 13.
  • “Guignard Gives Views on Bridge.” The State [Columbia, SC], August 20, 1922, page 16.
  • Hampton, Wade. “Hampton, Wade, Petition, and Supporting Copy of a Deed, in Saxe Gotha, Requesting the Right to Build a Bridge on Lands Commonly Called Fridigs Ferry and to Charge a Toll.” Petition, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, (Petition dated July 1, 1789, supporting deed dated July 30, 1785.)
  • "Hardaway Gets Bridge Contract.” The State [Columbia, SC], December 16, 1925, page 1.
  • Inhabitants of Columbia, Petition Requesting a Charter be Granted To The Columbia Bridge Company to Build a Bridge over the Congaree River, Series: S165015 Year: 1821 Item: 00057, Petitions to the General Assembly, South Carolina Department of Archives and History. http://www.archivesindex.sc.gov/ (Accessed March 31, 2019.)
  • Kinzer, Mark.  Nature’s Return. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2017, chapter 5.
  • “Local Items.” The Daily Phoenix [Columbia, SC], September 5, 1871, page 2.
  • “New Gervais Street Bridge Would Cost Quarter of Million.” The Columbia Record [Columbia, SC], August 11, 1922, page 10.
  • McCord, David J, ed.  The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, Volume 9. Columbia, SC: A S Johnston, 1841, pages 177, 256-257, 300, 337-340, 390, 476, 510. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433007185444;view=1up;seq=7 (Accessed March 9, 2019.)
  • Mock, Cary. “Once Upon a Front…” South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Website, Columbia, SC, 2019. http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/Education/facts/record_keeping.pdf (Accessed March 9, 2019.)
  • Moore, John Hammond. Columbia and Richland County. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1993, page 51.
  • Morse, Jedidiah. The American Universal Geography. Boston, MA: Thomas & Andrews, 1805, page 703-704. https://books.google.com/books?id=V4QrAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=GRANBY&f=false (Accessed March 11, 2019.)
  • National Register of Historic Places Application Form for Pinckneyville, SC. State Historic Preservation Office, South Carolina Department of Archives and History. http://www.nationalregister.sc.gov/union/S10817744001/S10817744001.pdf (Accessed March 10, 2019.)
  • “New Bridge Opens.” The State [Columbia, SC], November 5, 1976, page 1.
  •  “Old Bridge Now to be Torn Down.” The State [Columbia, SC], December 2, 1927, page 14.
  • “Paving Work Almost Done.” The State [Columbia, SC], June 9, 1929, page 3.
  • “Plans for Span over Congaree Given Approval.” The State [Columbia, SC], November 15, 1925, page 1.
  • “Pour Concrete at Early Date.” The State [Columbia, SC], March 31, 1926, page 12.
  • Ramsay, David, History of South Carolina, Volume II. Newberry, SC: W J Duffie, 1858, page 174.
  • Salley, A S. “First Congaree Bridge”. The State [Columbia, SC], July 5, 1953, pages 64-65.
  • Scott, Edwin J. Random Recollections of a Long Life. Columbia, SC: Charles A Calvo, Jr, 1884, pages 163-164.
  • “Seeking to Obtain Land Near Bridge.” The State [Columbia, SC], November 3, 1925, page 2.
  • Stevens, Michael E, ed. Journals of the House of Representatives, 1789-1790. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1984, page 374. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000010038246;view=1up;seq=404 (Accessed March 11, 2019.)
  • Stevens, Michael E, ed. Journals of the House of Representatives, 1792-1794. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1988, page 163. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000014555794;view=1up;seq=9 (Accessed March 11, 2019.)
  • “Survey for New Gervais street Bridge Completed. To Cost $500,000.”  The Columbia Record [Columbia, SC], July 18, 1924, page 10.
  • “To Place Lights on New Bridge.” The State [Columbia, SC], February 23, 1928, page 12.
  •  “Traffic Passing Over Gervais Street Bridge.” The State [Columbia, SC], November 12, 1927, page 1.
  • “Watson v Columbia Bridge Co.” Reports of Cases Heard and Determined by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. Volume XIII. From November, 1879, to April, 1880, Inclusive. Frederick D. Linn & Co, Law Publishers and Booksellers. Jersey City, N. J., 1881, pages 433-439.
  • “Would Have More Rural Policemen.” The State [Columbia, SC], September 13, 1921, page 6.