Columbus, Mississippi

From Academic Kids

Columbus is a city located in Lowndes County, Mississippi. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 25,944. It is the county seat of Lowndes CountyTemplate:GR.



Columbus is located at 33°30'6" North, 88°24'54" West (33.501750, -88.415128)Template:GR.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 57.8 km² (22.3 mi²). 55.5 km² (21.4 mi²) of it is land and 2.3 km² (0.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.03% water.

Columbus lies on U.S. Highways 82 and 45. It is also served by state routes 12, 50, 69, and 182. Columbus is the eastern terminus of the Columbus and Greenville Railway; it is also served by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (on the original right-of-way of the St. Louis - San Francisco Railway), the Norfolk Southern, and the CN (using the original right-of-way of the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio). The local airport is Golden Triangle Regional Airport.

The city is located on the east bank of the Tombigbee River and the associated Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Columbus Lake, formed by the John C. Stennis Lock and Dam, is approximately two miles north of downtown. The Luxapalila Creek runs through the town, separating East Columbus from Columbus proper (both are within city limits). The Lux, as it is locally known, joins the Tombigbee about three miles south of downtown.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 25,944 people, 10,062 households, and 6,419 families residing in the city. The population density is 467.6/km² (1,211.5/mi²). There are 11,112 housing units at an average density of 200.3/km² (518.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 43.62% White, 54.41% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.56% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. 1.13% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 10,062 households out of which 29.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.0% are married couples living together, 21.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% are non-families. 31.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.42 and the average family size is 3.07.

In the city the population is spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 82.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 75.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $27,393, and the median income for a family is $32,596. Males have a median income of $30,773 versus $20,182 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,848. 25.7% of the population and 21.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 40.9% of those under the age of 18 and 14.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Columbus is home to a state university, the Mississippi University for Women. MUW, a liberal arts college, has received numerous distinctions by U.S. News and World Report. The MUW campus is also home to the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, a state-funded school for academically gifted high school juniors and seniors.


The first record of the site of Columbus in Western history is found in the annals of the explorer Hernando de Soto, who is reputed to have crossed the Tombigbee nearby on his search for El Dorado.

Columbus was founded in 1821. Before its incorporation, the town site was referred to informally as Possum Town, which remains its nickname even today. Columbus' existence owed to the failure of a flooded settlement across the river, Plymouth, which was established in 1817. The Plymouth Bluff (above the ruined settlement) eventually became an environmental center for Mississippi University for Women. Early in its history, Columbus was referred to as "Columbus, Alabama" due to a mistaken estimate of the territorial boundary.

One of the first actions taken by the city's founders was to establish a public school, Franklin Academy. This was not unusual except for the fact that Franklin was the state of Mississippi's first public school.

During the American Civil War, Columbus was a hospital town. As a result, it largely avoided Union attack. Many of the casualties from the Battle of Shiloh were brought there, and thousands were buried in the town's Friendship Cemetery. The decision of a group of ladies to decorate the Union and Confederate graves with flowers together on May 29, 1866 is credited as part of the founding of Memorial Day. (Similar ideas occurred to other groups in several other towns on the same weekend.) A poet, Francis Miles Finch, happened to be in town that day and commemorated the occassion with the poem The Blue and the Grey.

Another result of Columbus' history as a hospital town was the sparing of its antebellum homes, making its collection second only to Natchez' as the most extensive in Mississippi.

Columbus has hosted the Columbus Air Force Base since the Second World War. CAFB was founded as a flight training school. After a stint in the 1950's and 1960's as a SAC base (earning Columbus a spot in Soviet target lists), CAFB returned to its original role. Today, it is one of only three basic flight training bases in the United States, and prized as the only one where regular flight conditions may be experienced. (The other two are in the arid conditions of the desert Southwest). Despite this, CAFB has repeatedly hung in the balance during BRAC base closure hearings.

Columbus boasted a number of industries during the mid-twentieth century, including the world's largest toilet seat manufactory and major mattress, furniture, and textile plants. Most of these closed by the year 2000. A series of new plants, capped by the proposed SteelCorr minimill, have been planned to revitalize the local economy. American Eurocopter has contructed a facility at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. Aurora Flight Sciences is planning on locating at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport.

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