Among the first settlers of European origin in the Clinton area was Elijah Buell, who built a log cabin on July 25, 1835 and established the town of Lyons, named after the French city of the same name. Lyons later merged with Clinton.
Clinton was platted as the town of New York in 1836 by Joseph Bartlett. In March 1837 Noble and Sarah Gregory Perrin purchased 136 acres (0.55 km2) of land in what is now Clinton and raised their family in a cabin located approximately at the foot of the railroad bridge. Their oldest daughter, Valeria, married Dr. Augustus Lafayette Ankeny, who participated in the Blackhawk war and came to Lyons in April 1850.
Mary Perrin, born September 26, 1837 was the first female child of European ancestry born in Clinton County. In 1839, as in most early river towns, the town consisted of a sprinkling of cabins, two stores and a tavern. In 1855, the Chicago, Iowa, Nebraska Railroad announced it would cross the river at Little Rock Island adjacent to Bartlett's settlement. The Iowa Land Company was organized on May 26, 1855 and on July 4, bought Bartlett's tract and renamed it Clinton, in honor of DeWitt Clinton, two-time governor of New York and one of the driving forces behind the construction of the Erie Canal.
On November 10, 1855, the first plat of the city of Clinton was signed. On January 26, 1857 the city was granted a charter and on March 7, the charter was adopted. On April 5, 1859, the amended charter of the city was adopted, which lasted until a general charter was adopted in 1867. In June 1859 the railroad line was completed to Cedar Rapids. The first train crossed from the Illinois shore to Little Rock Island at noon, January 9, 1860 and was ferried from there to the Iowa shore. In January, 1864 construction was started on the span from Little Rock Island to the Iowa shore and was completed on January 6, 1865. The original single track railroad bridge was replaced by a double track bridge that was completed in 1909. The first Lyons-Fulton Bridge was completed in 1891 and replaced with the current structure in 1975.
The first public school in Clinton was conducted in a log house near the W.J. Young upper mill. It was erected in the winter of 1855-56 and Isaac Baldwin was its first teacher. St. Irenaeus School was opened in 1852.
Between the 1850s and 1900, the cities of Lyons and Clinton quickly became centers of the lumber industry and were regarded as the "Lumber Capital of the World." Huge log rafts were floated down the river from Wisconsin and Minnesota, cut into lumber at Clinton, then shipped to the growing communities via the river and the railroads. Companies owned by the W.J. Young, Chancy Lamb, George M. and Charles F. Curtis (Curtis Bros. & Co), David Joyce, Silas W. Gardiner Lyons, Iowa Lumber History, and Friedrich Weyerhäuser families soon became among the largest in the nation. In the 1880s and 1890s Clinton boasted 13 resident millionaires, more millionaires per capita than any other town or city in the nation.
The largest, most elaborate party ever held in Clinton celebrated the debut of Emma Lamb and the twentieth wedding anniversary of her parents, Artemus and Henrietta Sabrina Smith Lamb on October 13, 1885. Fellow lumber baron F.C. Weyerhauser, his wife and daughter attended together with several hundred guests all attired in formal wear.
The era of opulence came to an end by 1900, as the northern forests were depleted. The sawmills closed, but the railroad and river, providing economical transportation in all directions, attracted manufacturing and heavy industry. The city still boasts a number of magnificent Victorian mansions, including the Curtis Mansion, now the home of the Clinton Women's Club.
Wagon Bridge, 1891
The original Lyons-Fulton Bridge was constructed in 1891 (replaced by the Mark N. Morris Memorial Bridge in 1975), followed by the Clinton High Bridge in 1892 (replaced by the Gateway Bridge in 1956).
The American Protective Association (APA) was founded in Clinton on March 13, 1887 by Attorney Henry Francis Bowers.
In 1941, with Howard Judd as coach, Clinton High School won the first of its 11 state championships in swimming. This string included five straight championships between 1954 and 1958 and produced 39 individual All Americans and 14 Individual All American Relay Teams (The Howard Judd Story Reception Program June 5, 1966). Clinton’s athletic successes were added to in 1953 when St. Mary’s won the state basketball championship.
Other great athletic triumphs were achieved by the 1991 Midwest League baseball championship by the Clinton Giants and the 1992 Clinton High State Championship boys basketball team (referred to as the '92 Crew).
On April 27, 1951 the Mississippi crested at 20.7 feet (6.3 m); then on April 26, 1952, it crested again at 20.9 feet (6.4 m). All of that was an exercise compared with the crest on April 28, 1965, which at 24.85 feet (7.57 m) was the highest ever recorded.
Construction of the Gateway Bridge (Illinois-Iowa) was started in August, 1954, was finished in May, 1956. It opened on July 1, 1956.
In 2005, Clinton, along with Coon Rapids, Iowa and Sioux City, was awarded one of the inaugural Iowa Great Places designations. This award brought to Clinton a $1M state budget allocation for cultural and landscape improvements along the city's riverfront.
Information was provided by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton,_Iowa