Friday, June 7, 2013

Council Bluff's Squirrely Connections

When we first parked in this town a week ago, we immediately noticed an abundance of squirrels, some of them black, others a reddish brown, and one in particular was reddish brown with splotches of black on him.  We came to find out later that the black squirrel is not a separate species, but a variation of the grey and fox squirrel.  Council Bluffs has many black squirrels, but they can be found elsewhere.
We drove into the downtown area of Council Bluffs to tour the Squirrel Cage Jail, built in1888.  It was constructed with the intention of providing "maximum security with minimum jailer attention".  The detention facility consists of a three-story metal drum, divided into ten pie-shaped cells on each level.  There was only one opening on each level.  Entrance to each cell was gained when the center drum was rotated and a cell door was aligned with the cage opening.  One man could turn the entire cell drum with a metal crank.  Perhaps the picture below of a small model of the jail will help you understand what the facility looked like.
In 1960 a fire escape was installed between the first and second floor.  The cylinder was cemented in place, bars were cut to open cells and the jail was reduced to 18 cells.  Originally it housed as many as 160 prisoners.  At one time children under 17 were also incarcerated here.  Before the days of social services single mothers convicted of crimes brought their children to jail with them.  There was a separate area where the children (the youngest was age 7) were placed.  From the jail it was an easy walk over to Bayliss Park where there is a beautiful fountain and flowering gardens.  However, I feel it  only appropriate in this posting that I show you some more squirrels.  This town does like its squirrels!

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