Columbia County was formed in 1813 and named for the mythic goddess Columbia, who represented the distinctively American qualities of the new nation in opposition to Britannia. In an area of beautiful, fertile creek and river valleys nestled among high ridges, the county represents the best of rural America with its productive farms, idyllic small towns, and a variety of small-scale industries. Settled at first by Quakers, the villages and towns were later strengthened by Scotch-Irish, German, Italian, and eastern European immigrants. Agriculture was the principal pursuit at first and continues so, but the county developed many industries ranging from timbering in the north to production of canal boats, textiles, and railroad cars in towns along the Susquehanna River to mining of anthracite coal at the county's southern edge. The photographs in Early Columbia County, selected from the historical society's large collection, evoke the people and life of the towns in their heyday from 1870 to 1920, when each locality attained a distinctive character.