Columbia dedicates a historical marker to Pop Geers Memorial Park

City leaders, historians and citizens gather to dedicate Columbia's newest historical marker honoring Pop Geers Memorial Park on West 7th Street.

The city’s newest historical marker not only recognizes Colombia’s first official public park, but also pays tribute to one of its many historical figures, Edward Franklin “Pop” Geers, a “nationally famous” harness racer in the late 18th century.

City leaders, along with Conservationist Sarah Elizabeth McLeod of the South Central Tennessee Development District, gathered Thursday morning to unveil the marker and share the park’s history and importance, as well as Geers’ role in the city.

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Known for his harness racing skills in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Tennessee’s Geers rose from humble beginnings to something of a national celebrity. Despite being born in Lebanon, Geers always considered Colombia his homeland.

City Manager Tony Massey (right) speaks about the importance of Pop Geers Memorial Park in Colombia during the park's dedication on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

“Pop set records on horses that had never been equaled before and he’s still valued by the trotting industry,” said McLeod. “I’m honored that we’re here and that we’re doing this.”

As part of her work as a conservationist, McLeod said she is also in the process of writing a book covering the history of Geers, which she hopes to publish sometime in December.

Mayor Chaz Molder and South Central Tennessee Development District Conservator Sarah Elizabeth McLeod unveil Thursday, April 23.

One of Geers’ greatest achievements during his racing career was recording the first mile in under two minutes on his famous Columbia-Ross Napoleon Direct in 1916.

His career of more than 50 years was cut short in 1924 when he died tragically at the age of 73 at the Wheeling, West Virginia racetrack.

Pop Geers Memorial Park, 602 West 7th Street, was dedicated later in 1926 with horsemen and businessmen from around the world erecting an obelisk in his honor.

Mayor Chaz Molder speaks at the historical marker for Pop Geers Memorial Park, located on West 7th Street, on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

“We’ve grown a lot over the past 100 years, but this is the first park for the City of Columbia, so right now we’re standing on a little piece of Columbia history,” said Mayor Chaz Molder. “I am pleased that the city has continued this historic marker dedication program. It’s important that we mark the history of our city so we don’t forget it.”

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