History - Photo Gallery

The History of the Dubuque Chapter

Of The Izaak Walton League of America

By Darrell Eickelkamp (Lifetime Honorary Board Member)

“We started in a chicken coop”

This is how I remember the beginning of our chapter. I give credit to Tom Spahn of Dubuque, now deceased, for getting it up and going. Tom was my neighbor and good friend. I had never heard of this organization until then. The year was 1961 or 1962. We held our meetings at the American Legion building, which was torn down and now is Shot Tower Pizza. Our club rose quickly to around 200 members and fell sharply after two or three years.

During that time we raised around 500 ducks and turned them loose on our great river. We also had about 20 gun instructors. We shot out at the fairgrounds with Earl Wiegand. We shot on the east side of the ballroom towards the railroad tracks. We would have to stop shooting every time a train came along. Earl was a good man and had a gun shop in his garage on JFK road. At the time, the model 12 Winchester was the most popular gun. Earl got a lot of guns for us and sent them in for ribs. We decided to have our own trap shoot, but we had no money. Tom Spahns friend, Bob Rolling of Bellevue, had the Ford dealership there. Somehow, Tom convinced him to give us a deal on a new Ford to raffle off. We got a trailer and proceeded to drag it to county fairs in the area. We put it in parking lots all over town to give it more exposure. While doing this, we had a wreck and had to get it fixed. We paid off the car for $1800 and put around $2500 in our account. We now had a little money to work with. We leased a little piece of the ground from Dave Waller of Highway 20 at the end of the 4 lane at that time. It was on the north side of the stone quarry. We got a couple pull traps and installed them. We got a deal on an old chicken coop. Leo and Dwayne Bly had the Bly Lumber Co. and they helped us out with the lumber. We gotogether and raised half of the roof and put windows on that side. If wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing.

At that time, we needed a manager and Curly Treanor took over and did a good job and ran the show.

During that time we had a grass problem. We had a meeting and discussed getting a riding lawn mower. Clarence Arlen’s son-in-law had an implement shop and had a small Ford tractor with blade and mower for about $1400. We purchased it and it lasted a long time. 40 years to be exact!

We kept our powder, shot, shells and our records at the Bly Lumber Co. It was ok until one night the building burned to the ground.

The trap shoot was doing good, but the Izaak Walton Chapter was not. Curly was a neighbor and he came over and said there is no members left. I was shocked. I hadn’t paid my dues either. There was one member left, and that was Cletus (Baldy) Nauman and he was a life-time member. I called Wayne Kress, Dwayne Bly, Baldy Nauman, Ronnie Weiner, and a couple more men and we got it going again. I became the president and George Forby Jr. be-came secretary.

I wrote up a letter stating that the Chapter would like to have a small piece of ground to put 4 or 5 traps and a rifle range. I sent out about 60 letters to people with a little pull. Things were going pretty well, until the day I went to the trap grounds and there were men trying to shoot clay birds down in the quarry. Some bb’s hit the side of my car. I immediately drove down there and put a stop to that.

“The price was $10,000 for 40 acres”

One day, I went to the range to do a little volunteer work and took my lab with me. He ran across the highway and was killed. I knew then that we would have to move because some-one was going to get in an accident try to get in and out of the area.

One day, Baldy Nauman came up to me and said he knew where there was a parcel of ground we could purchase. We drove out and saw it had good possibilities. It was a cornfield at that time and had a lot of dirt that would have to be moved to make it level. There were four of us that decided we should move ahead. Curly Treanor, Ronnie Weiner, myself and I don’t re-member the other person. The price was $10,000 for 40 acres. I called a meeting of the member to see if we should buy it as Izaak Walton or form a separate organization.

We got an attorney, C.J. May, to make sure everything was done properly. We decided to form a separate “Shot Tower Sports” and sell shares. Class A and Class B shares. You can have only one Class A share per person which is a voting stock. You can have numerous Class b stocks. The share were prices at $50 per share at that time, and is $125 now. It wasn’t long before we had enough money to buy the ground.

Now we had to get the ground ready to move onto. John Deere was experimenting with some big machinery to move dirt. There was a dirt pile that was 6 to 7 feet high extending from the road past the skeet house. They did a good job leveling off for the traps. They did all of the work for free and even sponsored 7 trap shooting teams.

The Army Corp of Engineers brought out their bulldozers and built our rifle range. This was also free with one stipulation. They wanted to be able to use the range when they wanted to. As far as I know, they never did.

We decided it was time to move our clubhouse. It was put on a borrowed truck and pulled to our new land. After a year or two, we thought we could afford to put up a pole building. We got the frame and roof on and it took about 12 dump trucks of lime to level off the floor. I spent one Saturday dragging all that lime with our little tractor and blade. We put plywood in front of the 6 x 6 poles so that cement would go clear to the ground for more support. A few years later, we doubled our building and then added a garage for storage after that.

It was decided that we needed water. We had to go down 530 feet to hit good water. I have tested the water and it is ok.

As I look back, I want to give credit to all the great volunteers for their help and good managers and their wives.

Ronnie and Helen Weiner, Don and Alice Pettit plus many others.

We have had good presidents and officers that have helped build our club. We were lucky to have companies who helped by providing free services to us.

I have missed a lot of stories, but that would make this twice as long! As I reflect on the past years, I wonder how this all came about. I hope this explains to you how we got started with nothing and what we have today.

By Darrell Eickelkamp - 54 Round Table Member - Dubuque, Iowa

(Darrell “Ike” Eickelkamp is still active today in the Dubuque Chapter, well on his way into his 90’s. He has been instrumental into making our Chapter what it is today, and we hope he continues to do so for a long time. He is an extremely well respected, light hearted, caring and fun person to be around!

He also, as you just read, loves to tell stories of yesterday.)

Dave Weig President 2015 to present / The Dubuque Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America

11001 Thunder Hills Road, Peosta Iowa 52068 / dubuqueiwla@gmail.com