Unlike most communities, towns or cities in Western North Carolina, Columbus did not grow from its position as a crossroads, its nearness to a body of water, or a gradual accumulation of residences. It was born overnight, deliberately carved from 100 acres of pure wilderness on what was then known as Foster Race path in the shadow of Fosters Mountain, known today as Chocolate Drop.
Seeking to avoid the 1847 squabble that greeted the first effort to find a location for a county seat, the North Carolina state legislature in 1855, named three out-of-county men as Commissioners to locate Polk County’s seat at or within two miles of the geographical center of the county. They chose Fosters Race path, in the shadow of Fosters Mountain. The Commissioners were authorized to purchase, or receive by donations, a tract of land on which to locate a county seat, not to exceed 100 acres.
Columbus was divided into 94 lots, with seven lots reserved for public, civic, and spiritual needs. At the northern end of the perfect rectangular 100-acre parcel, the Commissioners reserved a parcel for public use. The streets were laid out, some as wide as ninety feet, and an auction was held on October 17, 1855 to sell the lots. A total of 59 lots were sold, bringing in $16, 499 into the County coffers for the purpose of erecting public buildings.
County records to do not indicate an official date the Polk County Courthouse was completed, but the court records indicate the Courthouse was in use by December 1857. The same structure now listed in the National Register of Historic Places remains in use.
As the new Polk County seat began to take shape from the wilderness, the need for the incorporation of the Town resulted by approval of legislation by the General Assembly on February 2, 1857 incorporating the Town. The new Town was given corporate limits of only half a mile square from the courthouse square – limits that have not been changed except for voluntary annexations, to this day.
Physician, senator, and farmer, are some of the hats worn by Dr. Columbus Mills during the course of his 74 years, most of them in service to his beloved Polk County. Mills has been called the father of Polk County for his untiring efforts to carve the county from Rutherford and Henderson Counties. The NC legislature in 1855 named the new county seat Columbus- in his honor.
Columbus is well know for it’s annual Fabulous 4th of July Celebration which brings thousands from the surrounding area to town for several days of family fun activities. And new to the line up of area events, is the Columbus Day Celebration held in the Fall. For more information, check out the Official Columbus website at:
or go to Polk County’s Economic Development website at: