Railroad History


The railroad has always been an important part of Clinton life.  From about 1850, dreams were had about how the railroad could greatly improve life in Clinton county.  Farmers could ship their excess food to the east, where it was in great demand and those in the logging industry could ship their wares west. Several plans were drawn up, votes taken to raise necessary funds, financing gained and lost when finally, Aug. 13, 1870, Clinton had the first locally owned railroad -- the Iowa Midland Railway.  By the end of 1884 it was part of the Chicago & North Western Railway.  As time went on, other railroads also went through Clinton and by the 1950's, about 1500 people in Clinton County worked for the railroad.

Today, the railroad seems to operate behind the scenes of Clinton life.  The train depot at the corner of 2nd St and 8th Ave. is mostly vacant except for some shops.  The trains still stop on Beaver Island but all the buildings along Camanche Ave. are torn down. The end of an era, for sure.

Evidently, there was also a trolley in Clinton.  Does anyone have any photos or history to share?

Below are pictures taken from articles published in the Clinton Herald in 1998.  (Photos courtesy of scrap books kept by Jan Hanson and FCFH).  If you have railroad pictures to share, please send them to us via email -- I'd be glad to put them here.

There is also a train wreck photo at Danger Ahead: Historic Railway Disasters

Railroad men

Do you know who these men are?

Regarding the second photo, we have received the following email:

from Mike Harden data1@lookingglass.net 

I am writing to you about 2 Railroad pictures shown on your Clinton Iowa Genealogy Web page.

Under Railroad pictures, you have Two pictures which say, "Do you know who these men are?" Yes, We think we can identify two of the men in the Pictures.

We are talking about the Second picture, The one at the Railroad station with several men standing there. The Caption under the picture says, "It was people such as these Maquoeta employees who helped the Iowa Midland railway become a reality. In the Background is the Maquoketa Depot, Circa 1880."

On the left side of the picture standing is a tall slender man with a hat on and looks like a pipe in his mouth. This I believe is my Great-Grandfather Charles Frederick Bach.

According to the family history, Charles F. Bach started working for the C&NW Railroad in the 1880's in Clinton Iowa building bridges. He Went to Belle Plaine Benton County Iowa in abt 1900 and was in charge of a Bridge Crew. Promoted in 1914 to Supervisor of Bridges and of Buildings. He later worked at the Roundhouse where he was in charge of the Roundhouse, remaining in Belle Plaine until he retired in 1928. The family home in Belle Plaine Iowa was on 5th Avenue.

Charles Frederick Bach is listed on the database Germans to America, 1875-1888:
Bach Charles Age 24; Leaving Luxemburg; Arrival Date Mar 24 1886 in to Chicago on the Ship Westernland; Occupation Farmer; Gender Male; Manifest IS Number 39974 Country Luxemburg
Charles Frederick Bach country of origin is Luxemburg.

Charles Bach was born January 22, 1861

Charles Frederick Bach married, I believe, in Iowa Elizabeth L. Voss b. February 02, 1869 (she was probably born in Clinton or Scott County Iowa.) I do not know who her Father is. This I was wondering If you could aid me in finding out.

Charles Bach worked for the Railroad in Clinton Iowa. He built Bridges. Two of the 8 children were born in Clinton: Anna Bach - 1887 and Doretta Bach - 1889.  The rest of the 8 children were born in Belle Plain Iowa where he was transfered in 1900 and continued to work for the railroad.

Both Charles Bach and his wife Elizabeth Voss Bach are buried in the Belle Plaine Cemetery.

Charles Bach died in Dec. 1929 and His wife Elizabeth died February 19, 1953.

Person number 2 identification

On the right hand side of the picture, standing on the platform in railroad ticket uniform with a small child is Richard C. Harden, also my Great-Grandfather from the other side of the family. He was also known as R. C. Harden. According to my Grandfather's birth Certificate, (the small boy in the picture with Richard C. Harden) He was a train Dispatcher in Clinton Iowa. Richard C. Harden was born in abt. 1862 in Iowa (son of Henman Harden of Iowa) and married Kittie Mooney b. 1865 in Ireland. They probably married in Casey Gurthie Co. Iowa in abt. 1887.

The small boy is probably my Grandfather Raymond Clifford Harden b. October 05, 1892 in Clinton Iowa he died April 09, 1957 Tucson Arizona.

The small boy is probably abt 3-4 years old.

The interesting thing about this picture is that the Small boy in the picture ( My Grandfather, Raymond Clifford Harden) later married a daughter of Charles Frederick Bach (who I identifed above).

Raymond Clifford Harden married Helen Bach in abt 1916 in Belle Plain Iowa.

I am very sure that the Picture of Charles Frederick Bach is correct. I have a picture of him in later life and he looks the same. Now the person I identified as Richard C. Harden the Train Dispatcher with the small child, I am pretty sure of his Identity. Something happened to his wife Kittie Mooney shortly before 1900 and Richard C. Harden moved out of the State of Iowa and shortly re-married. I have a picture of his wedding picture in the early 1900's and it looks similar but it is difficult to tell from the Railroad picture since he is standing at a distance.

I have never seen this picture. Thank-you so much for sharing the picture. Hope this information helps.

Michael E. Harden

 

 

 

 

 

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I would be more than happy to share any centennial memories, stories or photos you may have in your collection--just drop me a line.  Thanks so much to Jan and the Clinton Co. Historical Society for sharing this with us.

 

 

 

 

Clinton County History Books

Many books have been written that include information about Clinton County; indeed, they are still being published today.  Below are some that we have info from online: