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Clifton (Terrace), Illinois, Newspaper Clippings

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser

 

EARLY HISTORY OF CLIFTON (TERRACE)

 

CLIFTON STEAM MILL
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 25, 1836
The owner of the Clifton Steam Flour and Saw Mill, being desirous of engaging in other pursuits, would dispose of the same on liberal terms. The above mill is situated on the Mississippi, 4 miles above Alton at a good landing where logs can be received as convenient as of any other mill on the river. The quantity of land attached may be from 10 to 50 acres to suit the purchaser. Refer to William Martin, Esq., Attorney at Law, Alton, or to the subscriber on the premises. D. Tolman.

 

CLIFTON
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 8, 1837
The town of Clifton is situated on the East bank of the Mississippi river, four miles above Alton, in Madison county, Illinois. The surface of ground upon which the town is located is much more regular and better adapted for improvement than Alton. The lots were surveyed and plated in the Fall of 1836, previous to which time the property, on account of some difficulties, was beyond the reach of speculators. Clifton, at all stages of water, has a good natural steamboat landing, and it can be improved and extended at a very small expense. Its means of communication with the back country are unsurpassed, scarcely equaled by any other point between the American Bottom and the mouth of the Illinois river. Its advantages for building are not common to new towns. A steam saw mill has been in successful operation of the premises for three years. The neighboring country affords a supply of excellent timber, limestone of the best quality is at hand, and an extensive bed of free stone, a quarry of which has been for some time nocued(?), and large quantities exported to St. Louis, is on the premises. This stone is of a superior kind and is in demand at 37 1/2 cents per cubic feet. Beds of stone coal, of an excellent quality, with a strain of from five to eight feet, are in the vicinity and owned by the proprietors. An extensive steam flouring mill is erected on the premises and in full operation. The situation of Clifton is healthy, and having an abundant supply of excellent spring water, it is believed it will continue to be so. The proprietors know not a point on the river that can compete with Clifton in the quantity and excellence of the spring water. An aqueduct for the conveyance of the water through the town has been contracted for and is now in progress towards completion - its elevation is eighty feet above the high water mark of the river. These are a portion of the advantages possessed by Clifton. It may not be improper, however, to say that the route of the Cumberland road, as surveyed in 1820, passed but half a mile North of this place. But should the National road strike the river at Alton, we submit to the judgment of all to say whether there is not a strong probability of its taking the northern bank of the Mississippi on its way to a point opposite to Portage de Sioux, which it must make in preference to the Missouri bottom. The distance is shorter and would be greatly less expensive in construction. Although Clifton was laid off but last fall, it already comprises, besides the improvements named, one store, a school house, ten dwelling houses, a blacksmith's shop, and a population of 67 persons. The proprietors will be liberal to these who may locate at Alton - to such persons lots will be given gratuitously on condition of making permanent improvements upon the property, and they pledge themselves to give a large portion of the proceeds of actual sales to the improvement of the streets and of the landing. To emigrants who find lots at St. Louis and Alton too high for their means, we beg to remember that lots can be had at Clifton, only 4 miles above Alton, for nothing but an obligation to improve them. A plat of the town can be seen at the Piasa House, Alton. For further particulars, apply to the undersigned. Hail Mason, Monticello, and D. Tolman, Clifton; Proprietors.

 

ALTON LUMBER COMPANY BUYS TOLMAN'S CLIFTON MILLS
Source: Alton Telegraph, April 12, 1837
The Alton Lumber Company, having purchased the above establishment, give notice to the farmers and other citizens of the vicinity that they have set apart Wednesday and Friday nights for the purpose of grinding grain for the accommodation of the neighborhood, at which times they intend running the mill whenever there shall be 20 bushels in the mill to commence with. They also give notice to the citizens of Alton and its vicinity that they intend carrying on the lumber sawing business. To the utmost extent that the mill is capable of, and as they intend pursuing a regular system in their business, and will not enter into contracts beyond what they can reasonable calculate on accomplishing, they hope to be able punctually to comply with their engagements. Orders left at the Mill or with William P. Jones, carpenter, Lower Alton, will be promptly attended to.

 

CEMENTS WORKS AT CLIFTON
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 13 & 27, 1874
The cement works now being erected at Clifton will be an extensive establishment, and do an immense business. A large amount of capital is being invested in buildings, kilns, etc. Owing to the immense deposits of cement rock in the vicinity, its manufacture into commercial forms will soon expand into one of our most important industries.

Several gentlemen of Louisville, Kentucky, who had long been engaged in the manufacture of cement, became apprised of the superior deposits of cement rock at Clifton, directly on the bank of the river, three miles above Alton, and made a careful examination of the locality. The rock was found to exist in great quantities. They had specimens critically analyzed, which after being subjected to the tests, were found superior to the celebrated Louisville cement rock. Being satisfied with the quality, the capitalists referred to purchased the Allen property at Clifton, where the deposits outcropped, embracing a tract of 105 acres. Aside from its commercial value, this property is one of the most delightful and romantic residence sites on the river, rising from the banks into lofty bluffs, which overlook the country for many miles. The cement rock outcrops at the base of the bluff and also along the slope of the riverfront. A company was organized under the named of “St. Louis Cement Company,” with the following as officers: W. A. Hauser, President; A. Bondurant, Secretary; J. D. Bondurant, Superintendent. These gentlemen, with Mr. Charles V. Shreve, own the entire stock.

The erection of mills and kilns was commenced last fall, and prosecuted with vigor through the winter, and on March 25, the mills commenced operations, though not fully completed. The works are on an extensive scale, and have been erected at heavy expense. The mills are erected at the base of the bluff, immediately on the riverfront, about three rods from the bank. The site was chosen with admirable judgment. It combines excellent facilities for manufacturing economically, with the best of arrangements for shipping directly upon steamers by means of a slide. No drayage is employed, either for the raw material or the manufactured product, which is a great saving at the start. The mill is a substantial frame structure, three stories high; dimensions 32x38 feet. Surrounding the mill are several minor buildings – blacksmith shop, storage rooms, shelter sheds, etc. A few yards west of the mill are the kilns, which are splendid specimens of mechanical skill. They rest upon the solid rock, a niche for them having been blasted out of the bluff wall. Their base is built of substantial hewn masonry. Upon this rises the kilns, built of fire brick, on the most approved principles. They are nearly oval in shape, thirty-four feet in height, center diameter twelve feet, upper eight feet, lower thirty inches. The kilns are encased in huge, hollow cylinders of 3 16-inch boiler iron, with a diameter of 171/2 feet. The space left between the kilns and the iron is filled with earth. The appearance of these huge grim, black towers, vomiting forth fire and smoke in the rural solitude, with the romantic and beautiful bluffs towering above, seems incongruous in the extreme. They might well be mistaken for the smokestacks of the Plutonian regions. But to return.

An iron tramway, about two feet gauge and 500 feet in length, leads from the kilns to the quarry, where the cement rock is now being taken out. The rock being quarried is unquestionably of superior quality, in fact, purer than any yet discovered in the country. And at this quarry, the work of cement manufacture commences. The face of the bluff is here laid bare, disclosing at the base a vein of cement rock, eight feet thick, lying between strata of hard limestone. The cement rock is of a dark grey color. It is softer than limestone, but is quarried in much the same way. The rock, as fast as quarried, is loaded into cars which are drawn up the inclined tramway to the top of the kilns by means of a stationary engine, which is supplied with steam from the mill below. The cars, on arriving, are unloaded into the kilns and returned to the quarry. The fuel used in burning is coal. The method is as follows:

At the bottom of the kiln is placed a quantity of wood. Upon this a layer of rock, then alternate layers of coal and rock, until filled. The kilns are drawn twice a day. The burned rock is then loaded in cars on another tramway, and run into the third story of the mill, where is located the great iron “crusher,” which resembles a huge coffee mill. The rock is dumped into the “hopper,” and after being reduced to about the size of corn by the crusher, passes down into the second story, where are located two fine run of burrs, four feet, seven one-half inches in diameter. The process of pulverizing is completed by the burrs, and the cement then passes through spouts to the first story, where it is received directly into barrels, headed up, branded “Piasa Star,” and is ready to be loaded onboard the steamer and shipped to its destination.

The machinery in the mill is of the most substantial character, and combines all the latest and most valuable improvements. It is driven by a twenty-five horse power engine. The mill will turn out 350 barrels per day, and the capacity is to be still further increased. The entire works have been put up in the most thorough and practical manner, and at very heavy outlay of capital. The faith the company have in the project is shown by the character of the work. The proprietors are all practically acquainted with the business, possess large resources, have a superior quality and a limitless quantity of rock to work upon (enough to supply the West for 1,000 years), and are bound to win success over any opposition. The mill now employs thirty men, many of them old hands at the business. The company intends erecting several tenement houses to accommodate their employees, and the prospect now is that a thriving village will soon take the place of the Rip Van Winkle suburb of Clifton, formerly sacred to moonlight, romance, and the sparkling Catawba.

 

NEWS FROM MELVILLE
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 33, 1874
We have had a lively time in this vicinity between the Directors of the Clifton School district and the colored people. There are over seventy colored children in the district, so the very kind and accommodating directors thought they would build the colored children a new schoolhouse, more convenient to them than the one used by the white pupils. They also hired a graduate for a teacher, as the colored folks complained last year that their teacher was not so competent nor their house as new as the one the white had. But the colored folks were not satisfied, and entered suit, which was decided in favor of the directors. Yet the colored parents keep their children at home, while the school goes on at the expense of the district.

Clifton and Melville are improving fast. A post office has been started at Melville.

 

CLIFTON - MONARCH OF THE MISSISSIPPI GONE –
GIANT COTTONWOOD TREE OF SCOTCH JIMMY'S ISLAND FELLED
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 17, 1906
Louis Young, who resides upon "Scotch Jimmie's Island" across from Clifton, has felled the great, tall cottonwood tree on the north side of the island, which has stood as a sentinel of direction to river men as long as the oldest can remember. The Chicago Chronicle several years ago printed a story of this tree, with measurements taken by a government official from one of the government boats, and showing it to be the largest tree in both height and girth in the Mississippi Valley. The tree was struck by lightning three years ago and had gradually died. One log was taken out of the base of the tree, measuring seven feet, eight inches in diameter on the large end. The stump of the great forest giant is large enough to sit a dining table on comfortably. The tree was undoubtedly many hundreds of years old, and towered no less than seventy-five feet higher than the other trees on the island. For many years when the crossing on the steamboats up and down the river was on the Illinois river side of the island in the narrow channel, the big tree was a valuable landmark to the steamboat pilots. Before being injured by the stroke of lightning, the tree had an abundance of foliage, and was visible for many miles from up and down the river. It has for many years been one of the sites of interest pointed out to passengers on the bluff line trains. The bark on the tree was nearly three inches thick in places, and was roughed and creased by the several hundred years of time it had stood. The great giant stood on high ground, and was seldom caught by the floods which washed out and undermined so many of the trees on the island. For the past few years the great limbs of the tree whitened by the burning sun, rose above the forest on the big island, a scarred but silent master of the great forest up and down this big valley. It was a pity to have removed this tree, even though it was dead.

 

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