It is said that Camanche was so-named because two Indians were killed nearby, but they were probably of the Sac and Fox tribe who made the great Indian mounds across the river at Albany. At any rate, Camanche was destined for great things … . until the tornado of June 3, 1860.
That storm was one of the most violent ones ever recorded. The Mason’s Charter and Tyler’s Jewel were found way over in Illinois someplace, where a woman was using the jewel as a hat pin, until it was recognized and returned. A lot of the victims were buried together in one plot, surrounded by an iron fence, in Rose Hill Cemetery -- which is one of the oldest maintained cemeteries in Iowa. It was named for the wild roses that bloomed nearby.
Later, Camanche recovered and prospered, but not to the degree it originally sought. Between 1900 and 1940 Camanche reached out to Clinton as its source of shopping and education. One important transportation mode then was the Interurban electric railway system. You can still see the remnants of a trestle just west of the old Central Steel & Tube Company property. It began in at the turn of the century and concluded operation in 1940, when most people had begun using automobiles. It was very economical, but it was closed down nevertheless. It ran from Clinton to Muscatine, and it is said that it could get from downtown Clinton to downtown Davenport in about 75 minutes. Albert and Arnold Wiebers, of Camanche, were conductors on it. The depots were in Clinton’s Jacobsen Building and, later, near Pinney Printing on 5th Avenue So. and behind the Grand Hotel on 6th Avenue So. It used the trolley car tracks in town and its own tracks out in the countryside.
Wallace Lum was once the mayor of Camanche and farmed and ran a well-known lumber company. (It must have seemed suggestive of a stutter … Lum Lumber.) Anyway, he was known for being a trusting soul, who used to tell customers to “go out and pick up what you need and give me a list later.”