The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


November 22, 2013

Sawdust of gold in Clinton's past


Many of the rich like them from farther south came up to Clinton to escape the Yellow Fever season. While traveling in Florida, the Garrett Lamb family hob-nobbed with the John Jacob Astor family for six weeks. Later Astor went down with the Titanic.

The rich of Clinton were celebrities of the town. Every citizen knew all of them and idolized them. They in turn were good to the people. The rich had to invent their own pleasures since the days of movies, computers, ball games, etc., had not yet been invented. The common folk had to do the same. They were all very good at doing so.

Extravagant parties were held with all the exotic foods of the time, and the others had dances. Tailors had all the business they could handle as rich men bought handmade suits like some today would purchase shirts and sneakers. Women seldom used a dress twice and they had to turn sideways to go through a door because of their huge and ornate hats. Later, upon going on a steamboat trip, they would load the new invention of the time onto their boats and automobiles. They had electrics, Daimlers, Packards, Pierce-Arrows, etc.

The self-contained nature of towns in the mid-1800s allowed for quick progress. Lumber came in; then, lumber and woodworking went out. There wasn’t much evidence of outside forces affecting the local economy until Clinton Foods began in 1906. It depended on various raw materials from rural America and, also, provided products to many other companies, not just to lumber yards all over the West, as lumber had. Clinton became home to more and larger national companies, such as E.I. DuPont, Chemplex, Purina and others.

Yet, for a few glorious decades, Clinton flourished like few other American cities had, and it is a wonder and mystery how this time passed so quickly. Who knows, this may be a temporary lull and Clinton’s hidden treasures may re-emerge and it will be restored to its former elegance.

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