The BIX at 6 practice runs and the actual event take many exercise enthusiasts along a course that is both physically challenging and visually intriguing. While jogging, walking or limping through the McClellan Heights area of the course participants can enjoy the stately homes and lush landscape of this historic neighborhood. But did you know that at one time it was thought to be the perfect location for an Iowa state park?
In 1904, when Charles S. Reed, the President of the Camp McClellan Land Company, had finally acquired the land and blueprints for his proposed residential tract on the former site of the Civil War era’s Camp McClellan he touted it as “The Most Beautiful Spot in All the World for a Home”. Ads claimed 2,000 old forest trees on the grounds, fresh air, no smoke, no old houses, no saloons and no little corner stores, and seven miles of heavy macadam park boulevards. Interestingly enough, a suggestion surfaced that it should instead be used for exactly that – a State Park. It was described by Park supporters as having “all the charm of watery vistas afforded by the nearby Father of Waters and in addition the panorama of the great government island and the three sister cities…” according to local newspapers.
In fact, a bill was introduced in the state legislature asking for an appropriation of $50,000 with which to purchase the nearly 215 acres of ground in partnership with funding from the city of Davenport. Supporters included G. A. R. posts and a special “Committee for Park Promotion” made up of Davenport’s most prominent leaders: Joe R. Lane, C. M. Waterman and others.
One can only imagine the deals that were being tossed around supper tables. A February article in the Davenport Daily Leader newspaper indicated Reed would oblige, but only for a price of $750,000. Evidently he reconsidered – or at least considered – a more neighborly option when he suggested in March that he would sell the forty acres the original camp actually occupied, amounting to about four blocks in Reed’s planned residential tract, and suggested a stately monument could be erected there; all for the price of just $100,000.
Neither the state park nor Reed’s plans came to fruition however. By November the Tri City Star reported that Camp McClellan Land Company sold the 214+ acres for the sum of $50,000 to a Cleveland firm. The park bill never passed the legislature, and in January of 1906 the city of Davenport approved the official Plat of McClellan Heights First Addition to the City of Davenport in accordance with the desire of The Davenport Land & Improvement Company, owner thereof – signed and dated by company President Joe R. Lane and the title certified as free and clear by the law firm of Lane and Waterman, ironically members of that “Committee for Park Promotion” just a few years earlier.
Fortunately the city of Davenport took note of “the charm of watery vistas” establishing Lindsay Park just south of the Heights. So next time you are on the BIX course take in some of the beauty of the McClellan Heights area. It truly is a “park like” setting.