Monday, June 3, 2013

Council Bluffs, Iowa

We have noticed that all of the bridges leading into Council Bluffs have some sort of interesting art work constructed into their structures, I must say that I will not forget this town very easily because of those unique bridges!  Actually, this town has more to it than unusual bridges, which can best be found in its history.  In 1859 Abraham Lincoln came to Council Bluffs to consider the Platte Valley as a site for the eastern terminus for the Union Pacific Railroad.  There is a monument in town marking the site where the first spike was hit for the beginning of that railroad- which became a reality in 1863 when President Lincoln selected Council Bluffs for the eastern terminus.
It was a young successful local banker, Grenville Mellen Dodge, who supplied Abraham Lincoln with "factual judgment" regarding the land of western Iowa as a choice location for the eastern terminus (quotation taken from The Historic General Dodge House book).  General Dodge was a man of many talents, during the Civil War he was named brigadier-general for his successful exercise of command during the pivotal battle of Pea Ridge.  His most unusual service during that war was to organize a spy system for General Grant's northern armies.  After the war he was very knowledgeable in reconstructing smashed railroad lines. Four years of his life was dedicated to completing the Union Pacific Railroad.  Before that goal was completed, however, Dodge was also involved in building the home of his dreams in Council Bluffs.
The Dodge House is considered to be one of the most beautiful restorations in our country.  Black walnut and butternut woodwork, massive doors with bronze decorated hinges, parquet flooring, marble fireplaces and towering sparkling chandeliers all speak to the elegance of this Victorian mansion.  I must say that it will be one of the more memorable older homes which we have toured.  Some of the original Dodge family artifacts can also be seen in the home.  Equally interesting to us is the fact that allegedly five former U.S. presidents, including Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley, Taft, Hoover, as well as Generals Sherman, Black and Logan have dined here.  The last picture in this post is that of the "Black Angel".  In memory of their mother Ruth Ann Dodge (wife of General Dodge) her daughters engaged the sculptor of the Lincoln memorial, Daniel Chester French.  His figure of an heroic angel is located at a cemetery in Council Bluffs.
Before her death Ruth Ann Dodge had a reccuring dream of an angel ministering to her.

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