Squirrel Cage Jail

July 2001

Squirrel Cage Jail.

General Dodge house.

Council Bluffs has an old jail called the Squirrel Cage Jail. This 1885 unique county jail is one of two remaining examples of the lazy susan jails. Octagon jail structure housing "pie-shaped" cells, and using a hand crank to rotate the "squirrel cage" allows the jailer a view of all cells from a single vantage point. The three story squirrel cage is divided into eight jail cells with two prisoners to a cell, it spins on a single axis inside a perimeter of stationary bars. The sheriff and his family had special housing on the ground floor and his wife received $.03 a day per prisoner to cook for all the prisoners. She could keep what ever money she didn't use for food. Prisoners were fed through special holes in each cell as the squirrel cage was cranked around. Use was discontinued in 1969, due to malfunctioning and hazards to inmates.


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This is a tree.

The squirrel Cage Jail.

The sign.

This is a cell.

This tells what you can't do to a black squirrel.

Headline of women who pled to worrying a black squirrel instead of "trespassing" (after hours in city's park).

This women worried a black squirrel.

The prisoners made these with cigarette packages.

They made impressions of the prisoners teeth and thus convicted one of them when they found chewing gum at the scene of a crime.

Locks used in the jail.

Home made weapons.

Ice box used in the sheriffs quarters in the jail.

Sign put in the window displaying how many pounds of ice that was needed.

cabinet in the sheriffs quarters.

The sink in the sheriffs quarters.

Old soap.

Different sheriff badges.

Stove in the sheriffs quarters.

Highchair made in 1908.

Who donated the highchair.

Opening/closing sign.

Girl Scout headquarters.


Some midgets that had a candy factory.

General dodge House.

General dodge House.

Bereshem House.

General Grenville M. Dodge has been called "the greatest railroad builder of all time" because of his role as chief construction engineer of the Union Pacific Railway and his subsequent railroading career, which spanned the globe. Born in the East, he first saw Council Bluffs while making a railroad survey, and was so captivated by the West that he made this city his home in 1853. His participation in the American Civil War was marked with outstanding military success. Built in 1869, Dodge's handsome Victorian home at 605 Third Street cost $35,000, a lavish sum for that day. The fourteen room, three story mansion stands on a high terrace overlooking the Missouri Valley, and displays architectural features such as parquet floors, cherry, walnut, and butternut woodwork, and a number of "modern" conveniences quite unusual for the period. Because no pictures are allowed inside the house, there is only an outside picture.
The Bereshem house (next door) built in 1899 for banker and state legislator, August Beresheim. The land and house was given to him as a wedding present by General Dodge. There are a couple of pictures taken inside the house before the guide told Nancy that pictures were not allowed inside.

Things in the Bereshem house before Nancy was told pictures not allowed.

Old bobbin lace pillow and lace being worked on it.

Children's room.

Children's room.

Children's room.

Children's room.

Gorgeous staircase.

Gorgeous staircase.

Gorgeous staircase.

Gen. Grenville M. Dodge has been called "the greatest railroad builder of all time." A Civil War veteran, Dodge's involvement in political, financial and military affairs made him an associate of many of the most influential Americans of his time and counsel to presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. .

In memory of Ruth Anne Dodge. Affectionately called the Black Angel, this work in solid bronze was created by the noted American sculptor Daniel Chester French, and has been called by him one of his finest works. He is known nationally for his statue of the Minute Man in Concord, Massachusetts and the seated Abraham Lincoln in the Memorial in Washington, D.C..

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