Welcome to Discover Columbia – our historic river town is a destination unlike any other in Lancaster County. Whether you are looking for incredible views of the Susquehanna River and our natural beauty and wildlife, exploring pivotal historic events, architecture, and landmarks, or wanting to get away with family and friends for unforgettable food, antiques, or fun on the river, there’s no place like Columbia.
So as we set out to elevate our beautiful town on the banks of the Susquehanna River, the challenge was how do we set our town apart from a branding perspective.
Enter Doug Huegel from Doug Does Design.
I came across Doug’s work on LinkedIn as he rebranded some outdoor company logos and I read about his approach to design. As a self-prescribed outdoor-based graphic designer, I knew he would have the ability to capture the unique elements of our town into a logo that would help others feel #ColumbiaPA before they even #DiscoverColumbia.
Doug and I met at the Columbia Market House to connect and enjoy the awesome culinary entrepreneurs that use the newly renovated historic marketplace to showcase their talents and irresistible edibles. After enjoying the sites and sounds (and tastes) of the Market House, we walked around town – pointing out the unique historic architecture that abounds, and visiting the riverfront at Columbia Crossings to appreciate the architecture of the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge (or Veterans Memorial Bridge) which is believed to be the longest concrete arch bridge in the world. Chiques Rock outcrop towers above the active railroad and the 14 mile long Northwest Lancaster County Rail Trail that starts in Columbia.
As we returned to the center of town, Doug had some ideas in his head that he needed to put pen-to-paper. A few weeks later, after some revisions and middle-of-the-night epiphanies about how to capture the #DiscoverColumbia brand, we ended up focusing our main logo on the ‘crimson’ color to honor the local tradition and school of the ‘Crimson Tide’. It also nods to the beautiful colors that decorate the sky and landscape during any sunrise or sunset – as the gold hues glitter across the river or outline the tops of the trees.
Given there’s more than just a beautiful arch bridge at the heart of Columbia, PA, we wanted to capture the other elements that make this historic river town so unique. The waterfront itself provides leisure, sport, and a relaxing backdrop for any pastime, so we decided to showcase it with our paddle-in-the-water element.
The river itself boasts incredible wildlife, fishing, boating adventures, kayaking for amateurs and experts, and has miles of waterways, lakes, inlets, islands, and even Indian carvings still embedded in the river rock!
Any visitor to Columbia can’t help but recognize the beautiful architecture of the buildings which date back to the establishment of the town, originally known as Wrights Ferry, in 1726 by the evangelist and entrepreneur John Wright. So we decided to not only depict one of the iconic downtown buildings in our nod to the town’s history – but also to reference the love of preserving history and reliving history that thrives in the local antique marketplaces and shops that abound. Visitors from all over the east coast are readily visible with a quick license plate scan any weekend in town at the local antique warehouses and stores.
The buildings in this town all tell their own unique stories – as recently highlighted by the ColumbiaWalkingTour.com project – and have been home to slaves en route to freedom on the Underground Railroad, housed underground tunnels that transported whiskey and brew upriver or down-rail during prohibition, and were home to the Civil War soldiers that turned back the confederate army with the burning of the bridge – leading to the Battle of Gettysburg just a few days later.
Appreciating history is at the core of the longevity of any town, and our historic society provides visitors with an incredible overview of the unique stories of our town.
The building icon also references the great opportunity to establish a thriving business that services the region and surrounding counties.
Finally, the other uniquely Columbia element is the natural landscape that boasts rolling hills, wildlife and river foal at every turn, breathtaking vistas, steep hiking trails and single-track running paths all along the banks of the Susquehanna.
Chiques Rock is Lancaster County’s second-largest park and natural landscape, and is probably the most iconic element on the riverscape, towering as a quartzite overlook 100 feet above the water. The banks of the river along the outcrop are also home to the remains of several iron furnaces, mills, canals, and a trolley line that can still be found along the trail.
So discovering Columbia, PA is much more than a visit to an eatery or microbrewery rebirthed in a newly renovated warehouse, or a bike ride down a river trail, or musing about the handiwork of historic artisans as you stroll through town. It’s about discovering beauty in the past, embracing the present stage of reemergence, forging a new tomorrow filled with promise and opportunity for all.