The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


April 25, 2014

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, 1947. A fierce wind storm toppled the KROS tower from high atop a famous downtown building.

KROS had been founded in 1941, and the studios and tower were housed in and on the Jacobsen Building, AKA the Lamb Block.

During a storm with “Tornadic Winds” (said the Clinton Herald headline), the tower fell into Third Street at 12:20 a.m., thankfully hurting no one, but it provided a gigantic conversation piece right in the center of a primary intersection. The station was off-air for the only time in KROS history.

Morgan Sexton was still the general manager, and Gil Andrew and Bob Johnson were engineers. According to KROS employee, Hank Dihlmann, they rigged a wire from the Jacobsen Building to the Van Allen Building and got the station back on the air in just a few hours. The range was limited but, still, the interruption was confined to a very short time and regular news, weather and other programing could be continued.

These were the days when Dihlmann could often be seen walking around downtown selling advertising. He actually covered the whole town, but he walked the Fifth Avenue South route and was known by everyone as the “voice of the River Kings.” Thousands of people who listened to him got to also see and know him.

He often stopped and talked to passers-by about sports and was well-loved by all. (Hank is still going strong and playing golf in his 90s).

On this date, a storm’s high winds had toppled the huge tower. It can be seen in the street and is the reason for the photograph, perhaps taken by Clinton Herald photographer Hank Wohlwend. This scene actually captures even more Clinton history. Across the street, one can see Volckman’s Furniture Store (before the building’s new façade was put on it) and the legendary Milo John’s Drug Store, which sold Rexall products.

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