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Getting Spooky at Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs
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Getting Spooky at Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs

I absolutely love fall. I love everything about it. I like that it gets colder outside. I like that Halloween is coming. I like the adrenaline of being scared out of my mind. I know I could easily pay a fee and go into a haunted house, but this year I started early and I went for something way more authentic. I took a trip to Squirrel cage Jail in Council Bluffs.

The jail, built in 1885, was in use until 1969. The idea of a rotary jail was one of the first of its kind. Only eighteen of these were built in the world and only this one had three floors. The “lazy Susan” style of the building allowed it to be maximum security with minimum patrol. Each floor of jail cells had only one door. When the jail rotated, the prisoners could not get out. It was thought to be escape-proof. The cell construction remains almost exactly as it was at the jail’s close in 1969, creating enough of a creepy vibe to give anyone goosebumps.

Ghosts are said to be roaming around the upper floors of this brick building that used to hold some of Iowa’s most dangerous men and women. There were pictures of what may have been a ghost on film located on the first floor. I sadly did not see any ghosts on my visit (this time) but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next flashlight tour to see if I have better luck. 

If I had to guess, I would say any ghosts there would be in solitary confinement. One “room” that gives you about two feet in every direction would hold men for days at a time. There was no room to sit and no lights. Sounds like a ghostly dream home to me! 

Even if you hate the idea of ghosts or hauntings, the history and construction of this one-of-a-kind building is absolutely worth the cost of admission. 

To learn more about Squirrel Cage Jail, or other spooky spots in Iowa, visit




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  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    The architecture of the Squirrel Cage Jail sounds absolutely fascinating! Thanks for filling us in-- this sounds like a wholly unique Iowa destination!
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