Samuel Wright, son of James and Rhoda Wright, was born on May 12, 1754. He eventually became the town proprietor and created a public grounds company to administer the land. Through his trusteeship, the town’s first water distribution system (later The Columbia Water Company) was established and created, as well as “The Washington Institute,” the town’s first school of higher learning, and the Locust Street Park, located next to what is now Locust Street and Route 462.
In the spring of 1788 Samuel Wright had the area surveyed, and formally laid out the town into 160 building lots, which were chanced off by lottery at 15 shillings per ticket. “Adventurers” as purchasers were known, included speculators from many areas of the country. Wright and town citizens renamed the town “Columbia” in honor of Christopher Columbus in the hope of influencing the U.S. Congress to select it as the nation’s capital, a plan George Washington favored. A formal proposal to do so was made in 1789. Unfortunately for the town, when Congress voted in 1790, the final tally was one vote short. Later, Columbia narrowly missed becoming the capital of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg was chosen instead, since it is closer to the state’s geographical center. The third strikeout was despite its competitive location in regards to transportation, coal, and steel, resources, Columbia narrowly lost out to Detroit during the selection process for a center for the new automotive industry.