Historical museum is a place to get lost

Charlene Bielema

There is a gem that sits at the corner of Sixth Avenue South and First Street, just one block away from Clinton’s Riverview Drive.

A two-story building with an attic filled to the rafters with history, everything from military uniforms and family Bibles to newspaper clippings, legal documents, and naturalization records can be found neatly stored, row by row.

This is the Clinton County Historical Museum, a place where the histories of Clinton County and the city of Clinton come to life.

While doing research for the Flood of 1965 this week, I was seeking a little red booklet that had been published by Clinton Corn that year heralding work done to save the plant from the devastating April floodwaters.

Not only was that booklet there, on site, but there were folders upon folders of photos and newspapers clippings about the flood tucked away in filing cabinets in the attic. The trek to the top of the structure led to a tour on the way down, courtesy of historical society member Jan Hansen, who graciously stopped along the way to talk about how the museum operates. From the time a piece or document comes into the fold, she explained, each piece is moved toward being assimilated into a collection, be it paper or photographic in nature or an actual item, such as the many that are on display in exhibits throughout the museum.

There are displays of a dentist’s office, doctor’s office, living area, school room, hair salon and a 1924 kitchen, among others, all there for the viewing on two floors. There are documents, clippings and records of family history; historical society volunteers, working in the museum, are a source of information as well.

Being a lover of history by nature, I was amazed.

In fact, “amazing” was the word I noticed I kept saying over and over each time a new artifact came into view.

If you are interested in learning more about how Clinton looked, the history of its people, the businesses that were here, and all the things that shaped this community, this is a great place to get lost.

Don’t just drive by.

Bring the family, take a look around.

And be amazed.

Charlene Bielema is the Clinton Herald’s Editor. She can be contacted at cbielema@clintonherald.com.