Columbus, KY was fortified by CSA General Leonidas Polk in 1861 to guard the Mississippi River from an invasion from the North. Extensive earthworks were built on the bluffs above the river. The Battle of Belmont was fought across the river on the Missouri side, the first battle of the Civil War that General Grant was involved in. Historical markers in the park tell the story about how Columbus, KY was once located on the lowlands by the river, below the bluffs, before it was destroyed by a flood. It was an important town in Western Kentucky, with the Gulf and Mobile RR connecting Columbus with Mobile, AL. This was one of the important railroads for the South during the Civil War. All traces of the railroad are gone today, as the tracks had been removed some time ago. There was also historical markers about the Battle of Belmont even though it was fought across the river in Missouri. The view from the top of the bluff is impressive, showing miles of the Mississippi River both upstream and downstream. General Polk evacuated Columbus in March, 1862 after Grant took Fort Donelson, which made Columbus difficult to defend. Remnants of the Confederate earthworks can still be seen, plus part of the anchor and chain that stretched across the Mississippi River to deter hostile Union Gunboats from proceeding south. Columbus - Belmont State Park is well worth a detour, and it's not that far from Cairo, IL or Paducah, KY.
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