Historical Society of Pottawattamie County Council Bluffs

Year Founded
Local Leader/Exec. Director
Mariel Wagner, President
Main Address

226 Pearl Street
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
United States

RailsWest Museum
16th Avenue and South Main Street
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
United States

What We Do

The Historical Society of Pottawattamie County operates The Squirrel Cage Jail and RailsWest Museums. We promote education through live programs, our Accidentally Historic podcast, History Online, YouTube Channel and virtual programs. We also maintain an extensive archival collection of Pottawattamie County history. The 1885 Squirrel Cage Jail is one of just three jails remaining in the world designed with a rotary cell block; it served as the county jail until 1969. The RailsWest Museum is housed in the 1899 Rock Island Depot, has nine pieces of rolling stock for visitors to explore plus new historical displays inside the museum.
History is more than a dry list of events; it's packed with real tales of real people that stood up for what they believed in and worked hard to make their dreams come true, creating the future, one day at a time. To understand who we are, we need to develop a sense of self, and see where we as individuals personally fit into the story.  And that's why LOCAL history is so important. And preserving that history is our mission.

Interesting Info
  • One of our museums is truly unique; it's the only three story rotary cell every built in the world!
  • Our podcasts have been downloaded in seventeen different countries.
  • Goal: Continue finding ways to make history interesting and relevant to everyone. Our history is what makes us unique; it's our identity and a source of pride.
Geographic Location

Pottawattamie County, IA, Nebraska