Columbia Canal

E bank of the Broad and Congaree Rivers from the Diversion dam to the Southern RR Bridge, Columbia, South Carolina


Columbia Canal, Aerial View

South Carolina Department of Archives and History



The Columbia Canal has played an important role in the commercial and industrial development of Columbia. Historically significant for its influence on the city’s growth, the Columbia Canal is also a notable example of the engineering expertise of the nineteenth century. Completed in 1824, the canal was designed to enable the navigation of the Broad and Congaree Rivers at their confluence in Columbia. It was part of the state-sponsored system of internal improvements designed to create inexpensive and efficient transportation facilities across South Carolina. Although its importance as a means of transportation significantly decreased after the arrival of the railroad in Columbia in 1842, the canal continued to be used for local commerce and provided water power for small industries. The Columbia Canal was the only canal project in the state that remained in use after the advent of the railroad. During the Civil War a portion of the canal was leased to the Confederate government. After the War, the canal passed through several owners before reverting to the state. In 1888, as part of the post-Civil War movement to industrialize the South, the State of South Carolina decided to enlarge the canal as a means of providing a power source to aid in the industrial development of Columbia. The enlarged canal was completed in 1891. The canal subsequently served as an impetus to the establishment of mills and factories in Columbia, thereby playing an important role in the growth of the city. In addition, the Columbia Canal was the site of one of the first power houses in the nation to utilize hydroelectric power to drive a large textile mill. Since its completion in 1891 the Columbia Canal has continuously served as a major power source for the city of Columbia. Listed in the National Register January 15, 1979. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 15, 1979
Reference number
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Navigation and Power Canal
Areas of significance
Industry; Commerce; Archeology - Non-Aboriginal; Engineering; Transportation; Invention
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction; D - Information Potential
Property type
Historic functions
Water-related; Manufacturing facility
Current functions
Energy facility; Park
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1825-1849
Significant years
1824; 1891
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 5
Contributing structures: 11
Contributing sites: 2
Non-contributing structures: 4

Update Log 

  • July 28, 2016: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • October 8, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View" and Imported Photo
  • October 8, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller