Camanche (pronounced ca-manch even though the street in nearby Clinton with the same spelling is pronounced ca-man-che) is a typical bedroom community. Manufacturing jobs are long gone; proximity to jobs in Clinton and Quad Cities means many people live in Camanche and commute elsewhere.
Visitor information is available at the Clinton Chamber of Commerce (721 S. 2nd St.; 563.242.5702).
Camanche’s first settler was Dr. George Peck who arrived in 1835; he reportedly named the town either after the Comanche Indians, none of whom ever lived in this area, or after his race horse. I’d bet on the latter. The town seemed destined for greatness, at least within Clinton County. Camanche was the first county seat and a leading commercial center in the mid-19th century, home to mills and farm implement dealers, commercial fishing, and served as a major transport hub (ferry service to Albany, Illinois dated back to the town’s founding). Alas, the town’s fate was changed forever on June 3, 1860 when an apocalyptic tornado wiped out most of the town. Dozens of people were killed and momentum for new development shifted from Camanche to Clinton. Camanche became a quiet river town, albeit one with a large country club for Clinton’s wealthy families. The Camanche Club was a grand resort known throughout the area for its opulence; it even had its own power plant. The economic downturn leading up the Great Depression led its demise, and the building was razed in the 1930s.
The Camanche Historical Society (1307 S. Washington Blvd.; 563.259.1285; open by appointment; free) has their main collection in a tin shed built to replace an 1860s-era warehouse, which had been moved to the current location, then was destroyed by a fire. The collection includes historic photos, antiques, and a genealogy library. They also manage the Camanche Depot (102 12th Ave.), which is next to the library.
Getting Out on the River
The Blue Heron Eco-Cruise (563.259.1876; Th 7p; $6) offers two-hour excursions on the river from Rock Creek Marina.
The town celebrates its heritage in August with Camanche Days (563.259.1209).
Located about six miles southwest of Camanche, Rock Creek Marina and Campground (3942 291st St.; 563.847.7202) has a range of camping options in a shady, spacious setting, plus six basic cabins with a microwave and small fridge but no bathroom and a larger cabin with bathroom and kitchenette.
Post Office: 820 S. Washington; 563.259.8038.
Camanche Public Library: 102 12th Ave.; 563.259.1106.
Heading upriver? Check out Clinton.
Heading downriver? Check out Folletts.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009
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