Historical Markers in
Columbus County, North Carolina

North Carolina is home to the largest private residence in the United States, the Biltmore Estate, which was built by George Vanderbilt in Asheville in the late 1800s.
Columbus County, located in southeastern North Carolina, has a rich and diverse history that stretches back centuries. Before European settlers arrived, the area was occupied by Native American tribes, including the Waccamaw, Lumbee, and Cheraw peoples. They thrived off the region's natural resources, including timber, fish, and wildlife.

In the late 16th century, European explorers began to venture into the area. The Spanish were among the first to arrive, with explorers like Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón and Hernando de Soto making expeditions through the Carolinas. However, it wasn't until the 18th century that permanent European settlements were established. In 1735, a group of Scotch-Irish immigrants settled along the Waccamaw River, marking the beginning of European presence in what would become Columbus County.

During the American Revolution, the county played a significant role in the fight for independence from Britain. Many residents joined the Patriot cause, and the Battle of Elizabethtown, fought in 1781, saw local militia forces clash with British loyalists. The county's proximity to both the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean made it strategically important during the war.

As the 19th century arrived, Columbus County saw an increase in agriculture, particularly the cultivation of cotton and tobacco. The introduction of railroads in the late 19th century further facilitated economic growth and transportation. The county also became known for its logging industry, with vast forests providing ample timber for building and trade.

Today, Columbus County continues to be influenced by its agricultural history, with farming remaining an important part of the local economy. The county also celebrates its heritage through various cultural events and festivals, showcasing the diverse traditions and history of its residents.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Columbus County, North Carolina.

  • 1723 - Columbus County was originally part of Bath County.
  • 1729 - North Carolina was divided into several counties, including Bladen County, which Columbus County was a part of.
  • 1808 - Columbus County was officially established as a separate county from Bladen County.
  • 1830s - Settlement in the area increased with the arrival of new settlers, mostly farmers and lumbermen.
  • 1865 - The county was affected by the American Civil War and Reconstruction era.
  • 1888 - The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was completed, helping to stimulate economic growth in the county.
  • 1895 - Tabor City was incorporated as a town, boosting commerce in the northern part of the county.
  • 1906 - Columbus County Agricultural Fair was first held, becoming an annual tradition.
  • 1920s - The county experienced an economic boom with increased tobacco production and improved infrastructure.
  • 1930s - The Great Depression deeply affected the county's economy, leading to a decline in agriculture.
  • 1940s - The county experienced growth with the establishment of Camp Davis, an anti-aircraft training base, during World War II.
  • 1950 - The growth of the textile industry brought new employment opportunities to Columbus County.
  • 1984 - The establishment of the North Carolina/Border Belt Horse Complex in Whiteville boosted the county's equine industry.
  • 1996 - A tornado struck the county, causing significant damage.
  • 2020 - Columbus County continues to thrive, with a diverse economy and a rich history.