The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 27, 2013

Railroads Made Clinton Famous



Clinton once seemed intended by fate to be the new “Chicago on the Mississippi.” The river and the railroad, -- coupled with the first transcontinental automobile highway (The Lincoln Highway), the north-south Milwaukee Line Railway, many sizable industries like E.I. DuPont’s and Clinton Corn Processing -- made it appear inevitable! However the dream hasn’t materialized.


Any remembrance of railroad history would not be complete without mentioning the roundhouses. Stage melodramas of an earlier era often included the chant, “Run to the roundhouse Nellie, they can’t corner you there!” Roundhouses were an important part of the railroad industry, and this area had three between the 1870’s and 1957. The first was near the river on 8th Avenue, circa 1870 to 1910 -- just below the high wagon bridge, another was in Fulton, and the third was out on Camanche Avenue through the 1960’s. Clinton’s new depot was constructed in 1915 and a viaduct by 1922. The Second Street Viaduct was a bit later. It contains a sidewalk large enough for vehicles to cross in flood season!


In 1893, Chicago had its famous World Fair called The Columbian Exposition. President Cleveland flipped the golden switch and lights came on! The Exposition showed every wonderful new thing invented to date. At that time, Thomas Edison was referred to as “Professor Edison,” and his light bulb was displayed magnificently in numerous ways throughout the gigantic midway. Clinton’s own Lillian Russell signed for a 16-day tour at the Fair, and her friend Diamond Jim Brady came along -- escaping that year’s terrible Stock Market Crash in New York. This economic disaster had a great effect on the railway industry; Clinton’s Courthouse was delayed for years and hundreds of millionaires became penniless, but the World Fair plunged on as if nothing happened. It was a huge success!

Text Only
  • Rastrelli's Rastrelli's restaurant a cornerstone in Lyons District Pete Rastrelli (1900-1966) came here to work for Marcucci’s as a candy maker in 1926 after learning the trade at businesses like Curtis Candy Co. in Chicago.In Clinton, he met and married a nursing student named Ida Baldacci. Ida was an orphan from C

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 6-11-14 McEleney photo A closer look at the McEleneys' history Leo and Emmett McEleney started their business in 1914. Now, 100 years of service to the community has been accomplished. They started with Jeffery automobiles, and it was their mechanical prowess (Emmett) and business sense (Leo) which really helped

    June 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • St. Irenaeus Church marks 150 years Lyons was founded in 1835 by Elijah Buell. Just 13 years later, the Catholic parish of St. Irenaeus was organized by Father Cyril Jean, a French priest sent to Lyons by Bishop Matthew Loras who also presided at the first Mass in 1837. The first wood

    May 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Herrity history Picture showcases tower's fall You may have heard that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Well, this picture certainly is. History-lovers can often go on talking about some old photographs for a half-hour or more, and this is a fine example. Let's start with Sunday, July 27,

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-14-14 Longman service Clinton hero laid to rest

    ROCK ISLAND, Ill.-- After 70 years, Lt. Louis L. Longman, of Clinton, finally has been laid to rest with full military honors in the Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery. First Lt. Chaplin Jacob Grenier, of Muscatine, performed Catholic burial rite

    April 12, 2014 4 Photos

  • Drive-in theatre dominant Clinton's own drive-in theater Spring brings many thoughts, but taking the family out to see a big-screen movie at the Clinton Drive-In Theatre on Iowa 136 and North 16th Street is sadly no longer an option. Large families were thirsting for family activities after World War II.

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Longmann 70 years in the making: WWII soldier to be honored Imagine three boys, orphaned in the midst of the Great Depression, moving from Minnesota to an adjacent state to live with extended family. How hard it would be to lose both parents and, then, have to move away and take up a new life in a strange tow

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dale Gardner astronaut collage Let's celebrate our successful people There are many famous and successful people who have called Clinton home. We need to celebrate their lives as well as all of their contributions. Recently, former astronaut Dale Gardner, 65, died. He and two other astronauts have connections with Cli

    March 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • Lyons photo for Herrity column HERRITY: Residents have pride in neighborhood

    To this day, thousands of Clintonians say, "I was born and raised in Lyons." Founder Elijah Buell first set foot on the banks of what would become Lyons, Iowa in 1835. He built a cabin, laid out a town, platted the community, raised a family, sold

    December 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • Dem Convention.jpg Famous Clinton Lawyers

    Clinton lawyers in our history are a group of hugely contributing citizens.

    September 27, 2013 1 Photo