Columbia, Virginia

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Columbia, Virginia
Location of Columbia, Virginia
Location of Columbia, Virginia
Coordinates: 37°45′8″N 78°9′44″W / 37.75222°N 78.16222°W / 37.75222; -78.16222Coordinates: 37°45′8″N 78°9′44″W / 37.75222°N 78.16222°W / 37.75222; -78.16222
Country United States
State Virginia
County Fluvanna
Incorporated 1788[1]
Named for Columbia
(poetic name for the United States)[1]
 • Total 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
 • Land 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 210 ft (64 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 49
 • Density 246.1/sq mi (95.0/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
FIPS code 51-18624[2]
GNIS feature ID 1492796[3]

Columbia was a town in Fluvanna County, Virginia, United States, at the confluence of the James and Rivanna Rivers. The population was 49 at the 2000 census, making it Virginia's smallest incorporated town.

Known as Point of Fork through the late 18th century, it was the setting of a minor battle during the Revolutionary War.

Columbia is part of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Columbia dates back to 1788. [4]

In the mid-19th century, Columbia was a point along the stagecoach route between Richmond and Staunton.[5]

Gum Creek, Point of Fork Arsenal, Point of Fork Plantation, and Tinsley Tavern are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6] The town saw significant flooding during Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Columbia was the last remaining independent town in Fluvanna County. However, in May 2014, Columbia's Mayor and Town Council proposed disincorporation which, if successful, would result in the town being reabsorbed by the County.[7] In June 2014, Preservation Virginia, a historic preservation group in the Commonwealth, placed the Town of Columbia on its "most endangered" list. A small group of individuals has stepped forward to raise public support to document and preserve the history of the town, which had a mayor before there was a President of the United States.

On March 17, 2015, residents voted to disincorporate the town and become part of Fluvanna County, a move requiring approval of the Virginia General Assembly.[8]


Columbia is located at 37°45′8″N 78°9′44″W / 37.75222°N 78.16222°W / 37.75222; -78.16222 (37.752206, -78.162291).[9]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.2 square mile (0.5 km²), of which 0.2 square mile (0.5 km²) is land and 4.76% is water.


Climate is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfa" (Humid Subtropical Climate).[10]

Climate data for Columbia, Virginia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) −4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 81
Source: Weatherbase [11]


As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 83 people, 27 households, and 19 families residing in the town. The racial makeup of the town was 53% White and 47% African American. No other races, or multi-racial individuals, were listed among the population.

There were 27 households out of which 40.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, and 22.2% had individuals 65 years and older. 40.7% were married couples living together, 25.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 1 household (3.7) was a male with no wife present, and 29.6% were non-families. 14.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.47.

In the town the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 20, 8.4% from 21 to 24, 33.7% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The oldest resident was a female in the 80-84 age group. The median age was 34.5 years. There were a total of 41 males and 42 females.

Approximately 55.6% of the population aged 16 and older were employed. The median household income was $90,000, and the median family income was $43,750. The per capita income for the town was $14,956. 45.5% of all families were below the poverty line. while 100% of the families headed by a female with no husband present were below the poverty line.

[12] [13]

Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel[edit]

Columbia is home to St. Joseph's Church and Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel, a parish within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond.[14] The church was built by William and Catherine Wakeham, English Catholic abolitionists who moved to Columbia in 1833. Because they were abolitionists, the hill on which their house was built came to be called Free Hill. Two of the Wakehams' sons, Alfred and Richard, were Josephite Fathers, and the Wakehams built a chapel so that their sons could celebrate Mass. After Catherine Wakeham's death in 1891, the Wakeham sons' duties took them away from Columbia. An elderly African-American man, Zack Kimbro, continued to maintain the chapel and place fresh flowers and clean linen on its altar.

St. Katharine Drexel, S.B.S. (1858-1955) was an educator, a zealous opponent of racism, and founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She was canonized in 2000 by Pope St. John Paul II. She and her Sisters founded countless schools across the United States to provide educational opportunities for African-American and Native American communities, including most prominently Xavier University. In 1901 she noticed the reflection of sunlight on the chapel's cross while traveling by rail from St. Francis de Sales High School, which she had founded in Powhatan County, to Lynchburg. She inquired about the cross and was told the story of the Wakehams' chapel by Rebecca Kimbro, Zack Kimbro's daughter and a St. Francis student. St. Katharine was soon introduced to Kimbro, who told her he had prayed daily for over a decade that Mass would once more be celebrated in the chapel.

St. Katharine contacted the Josephite Fathers and arranged for Mass to be celebrated in the chapel regularly. She also founded a small school which was built adjacent to the chapel and was one of Fluvanna County's only educational opportunities for African-American children. St. Joseph's and its school became the center of one of Virginia's only historically African-American Catholic communities.

Because of its location on high ground, St. Joseph's was spared during the series of 20th-Century floods that mostly destroyed Columbia's other buildings. St. Joseph's and the Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel is still an active parish, sharing a pastor with Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Palmyra. St. Joseph's also serves Catholic students at the nearby Fork Union Military Academy.



  1. ^ a b Cox, Edwin (1965). Gleanings of Fluvanna History. Fluvanna County Historical Society. pp. 20–21. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008. 
  4. ^ Strong, Ted (March 17, 2015). "Columbia Residents Vote 18-1 to Do Away With Town". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 
  5. ^ Smith, John Calvin (1847). The Illustrated Hand-book, a New Guide for travelers through the United States of America. New York City: Sherman & Smith. p. 132. 
  6. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Strong, Ted (March 17, 2015). "Columbia Residents Vote 18-1 to Do Away With Town". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ Climate Summary for Columbia, Virginia
  11. ^ "". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on August 20, 2013.
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