Saturday, August 5, 2017

Squirrel Cage

Amana RV Park
Amana, Iowa

Yesterday was another busy day.  Bill and I began the day by going to the Durham Museum in Omaha.  The museum is housed in the old Union Pacific's Union Station.  The station was opened in 1931 at a cost of $3.5 million.

We toured the Durham once before when we were attending a Montana Owners Rally.  I noticed that they had a special exhibit on the Omaha Police Department and also an exhibit called Top Secret--License to Spy which I knew Bill would love.  

  You were given a spy file with a list of suspects and different apparatus to try and solve the "who done it".  Once our brains were overworked, we revisited the rest of the museum.  There are trains to tour, Lewis and Clark, the Mormon's, mining, Omaha history and much more.  When you go upstairs there are statues that "talk" giving you a feeling you stepped back in time.  There was an old fashioned soda fountain where we had sundaes.

This was great fun, but the second stop of the day turned out to be my favorite.  We drove over to Council Bluffs, Iowa to tour the Pottawattaamie County Squirrel Cage Jail.

The building housed the county jail from September 11, 1885 until December 1, 1969.  It took 5 months to construct the jail at a cost of $30,000.

If you are a large person you might have trouble going into some of the rooms.

The Pottawattamie County jail is the largest patented design of its kind ever built.

The building consists of four floors with 30 cells.  There are 10 cells on each of the bottom three floors.  The cage weighs 90,000 pounds and is 28 feet tall with a diameter of 24 feet.

I don't think I'll be doing any criminal stuff, I couldn't stand to be in there long enough for a photo.

You do the math but a 24 foot diameter with ten cells doesn't leave a lot of room for these pie shaped cells.

This metal thing is the toilet.  I won't go into a lot of detail but remember there are three stories one on top of the other.

We were given a small booklet with a brief explanation of the jail and facts to use as we walked around.  

You could enter any cell that didn't have the hand cuffs across the doorway.  The bars were removed I believe by request of the fire department.  Each cell had a story about a prisoners that occupied it.

Here's a view of the cage as I climbed up some very narrow stairs to the second floor.

Baby Face Nelson and Jake Bird were prisoners in this jail.

Showers were once a week.  The inmates wore the clothing which they were wearing when they came to the jail. Once a week when they showered they left their clothes on as they were never laundered the whole time they were in jail.

This is the top of the cage as viewed from the warden's apartment.  It was said that the smells were terrible.

It's hard to show you photos, it's one of those places you'd have to experience.  

We were both exhausted by the time we got home, but not too tired when Ron and Mary suggested going out for dinner.  Ron knew a Mexican restaurant that wasn't far away that they had never tried.  It was excellent.
We started to each order a margarita and then changed the order to a pitcher.  The waiter brought the three glasses of margaritas and also the pitcher.  

Mary and Ron were pleased with their food and service. 

The pitcher of margaritas is empty and we're still able to sit up.

Still having fun after dinner, we never ran out of things to talk about.  

Turtle Safely.........


  1. Prison museums fascinate me. So do prison movies. I think maybe I was a warden in my last life.

  2. The warden's apartment was very nice but the toilets were right below.

  3. Weather you were a prisoner or the Warden back then you weren't used to the luxuries we are exposed to today so you made do. Still a scary place when you think of it.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  4. I LOVE it!! Prisons are one of my favorite places to visit ... as a tourist. I wouldn't want to live there!! Prisoners today are SO spoiled!!!

  5. Oh this looks like an awesome place to visit. Paul and I would really enjoy this Squirrel Cage. Thanks for the tour.

  6. That squirrel cage sound like a must see place, and good mexican food is something we love.


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