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  • Writer's pictureMelody Lager


Before Belmond was officially platted in October, 1856, it was to be known as “Crown Point”, and most of the town was west of the Iowa River. Archer Dumond was one of three prominent men to be involved in this, and Crown Point was the name of the town in Indiana where he came from. Others wanted the town to be known as Dumond. Mr. Dumond was unwilling to have it Dumond, but was agreeable to naming it after the first baby girl born – Belle Dumond.

The first buildings went up on the west side of the Iowa River, Including the Cutler & Elder saw mil and flouring mill in 1856. Doctor Cutler also built a brick home on the west side. By 1875 Belmond boasted three churches, a bank, two hotels, a newspaper and other shops. Of interest was the fourth city attorney, W. Eskridge, was later killed by Indians in a massacre in Colorado. The Iowa River could go from easy to cross to a raging river in the matter of days. In 1867, the flooding Iowa took out the bridge between east and west; and then washed away the old mill in 1870. That year also brought the death of five young men. Ice took out the bridge, and William Rowen, George Royce, Dudley Gillman all from Belmond, plus R. P. Rowley of Horse Grove and S.F. Ainsley of Clarion. The men started out in a boat with only a pole to guide them across to the mill area. This is also where the dam was located, and when the men reached the middle of the river, the rushing water carried them over the dam. J. P. Birdsall wrote, “Terror stricken, the people on shore behold their terrible situation, and every effort that human effort could invent, whereby they might be saved, was put for them, but all to no purpose.”

As the 1900’s rolled in, Belmond had a brick & tile company owned by H. J. Klemme. A creamery was established in 1911; the roller flour milling company provided flour, two produce houses and a “Velvet” ice cream plant we other industries. The town continued to grow and flourish. In October 1966, another disaster struck Belmond. Homecoming Friday – just as the parade was ending, the skies turned a sickly green and Belmond was enveloped in a tornado. Starting southwest of Belmond, turning up highway 69 the tornado went right thru Main Street. Results were staggering – six dead, 36 others hospitalized, and 82 treated and released. Estimates were up to 11 million dollars, as 109 homes were demolished, 160 had major damage, and 75 of 112 business buildings were destroyed or badly damaged. It is to Belmond’s credit that they rebuilt their downtown!

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