Council Bluffs is a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie
County, Iowa, United States. The city is the most populous in
Southwest Iowa, and a principal city in the Omaha–Council Bluffs
metropolitan area. It is located on the east bank of the Missouri
River, across from Omaha, Nebraska. Council Bluffs was known, until at
least 1853, as Kanesville. It was the historic starting point of
the Mormon Trail. Kanesville is also the northernmost anchor town of
the other emigrant trails, since there was a steam powered boat to
ferry their wagons, and cattle, across the Missouri River.
Council Bluffs' population was 62,230 at the 2010 census. Along with
neighboring Omaha to the west, Council Bluffs was part of the
60th-largest metropolitan area in the United States in 2010, which had
an estimated population of 865,350 residing in the eight counties of
the Omaha–Council Bluffs metropolitan area.
Council Bluffs is more than a decade older than Omaha. The latter,
founded in 1854 by Council Bluffs businessmen and speculators
following the Kansas–Nebraska Act, has grown to be a significantly
1.1 1804–1843 – Pottawatomi Reservation Caldwell's Camp
1.2 1844–1851 – Mormon Community of Kanesville
1.3 1852–1900 Council Bluffs and Beginning of Railroad Era
3.1 2010 census
3.2 2000 census
5 Environmental problems
6 Arts and culture
10 Sister cities
11 Notable people
12 See also
13 External links
1804–1843 – Pottawatomi Reservation Caldwell's Camp
The first Council Bluff (singular) was on the Nebraska side of the
river at Fort Atkinson (Nebraska), about 20 miles northwest of the
current city of Council Bluffs. It was named by
Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark for a
bluff where they met the
Otoe tribe on August 2, 1804.
Iowa side of the river became an Indian Reservation in the 1830s
for members of the
Council of Three Fires of Chippewa, Ottawa and
Potawatomi, who were forced to leave the
Chicago area under the Treaty
of Chicago, which clearing the way for the city of
The largest group of Native Americans who moved to the area were the
Pottawatomi, who were led by their chief
Sauganash ("one who speaks
English"), the son of the British loyalist William Caldwell, who
founded Canadian communities on the south side of the Detroit River,
and a Pottawatomi woman.
Seeking to avoid confrontation with the Sioux, who were natives of the
Council Bluffs area, the 1,000 to 2,000 Pottawattamie initially had
settled east of the
Missouri River in Indian territory between
Leavenworth, Kansas and St. Joseph, Missouri. When this area was
bought from Ioway, Sac and Fox tribes in the
Platte Purchase and part
of Missouri in 1837,
Sauganash and the Pottawatomi were forced to move
to their assigned reservation in Council Bluffs. Sauganash's English
name was Billy Caldwell, and his village was called Caldwell's Camp.
The tribe were sometimes called the Bluff Indians. U.S. Army Dragoons
built a small fort nearby.
In 1838–39, the missionary
Pierre-Jean De Smet
Pierre-Jean De Smet founded St. Joseph's
Mission to minister to the Potawatomi. De Smet was appalled by the
violence and brutality caused by the whiskey trade, and tried to
protect the tribe from unscrupulous traders. However, he had little
success in persuading tribal members to convert to
resorted to secret baptisms of Indian children.
During this time, De Smet contributed to Joseph Nicollet’s work in
mapping the upper midwest. De Smet produced the first
European-recorded, detailed map of the Council Bluffs area; it
Missouri River valley system, from below the Platte River
to the Big
Pierre-Jean De Smet's map of the Council Bluffs area, 1839. The area
labeled Caldwell's Camp was a
Potawatomi village led by Sauganash,
near the site of Kanesville, later called Council Bluffs.
De Smet wrote an early description of the
Potawatomi settlement, which
captures his bias:
Imagine a great number of cabins and tents, made of the bark of trees,
buffalo skins, coarse cloth, rushes and sods, all of a mournful and
funeral aspect, of all sizes and shapes, some supported by one pole,
others having six, and with the covering stretched in all the
different styles imaginable, and all scattered here and there in the
greatest confusion, and you will have an Indian village.
As more native Americans were pushed into the Council Bluffs area by
pressure of European-American settlement to the east, inter-tribal
conflict increased, fueled by the illegal whiskey trade. The US Army
built Fort Croghan in 1842, to keep order and try to control liquor
traffic on the Missouri River. However that fort was destroyed in a
flood the same year.
By 1846 the Pottawatomi were forced to move again to a new reservation
at Osawatomie, Kansas.
1844–1851 – Mormon Community of Kanesville
In 1844, the
Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party crossed the Missouri River
here, on their way to blaze a new path into
California across the
Sierra Nevada Mountains. Beginning in 1846, there was a large influx
Latter-day Saints into the area, although in the winter of
Latter-day Saints crossed to the Nebraska side of the
Missouri River. Initially, the area was called "Miller's Hollow",
after Henry W. Miller, who would be the first member of the
Legislature from the area. Miller also was the foreman for the
construction of the Kanesville Tabernacle.
By 1848, the town had become known as Kanesville, named for benefactor
Thomas L. Kane, who had helped negotiate in Washington, DC federal
permission for the
Mormons to use Indian land along the Missouri for
their winter encampment of 1846–47. Built at or next to Caldwell's
Camp, Kanesville became the main outfitting point for the Mormon
Exodus to Utah, and it is the recognized head end of the Mormon Trail.
Edwin Carter, who would become a noted naturalist in Colorado, worked
here from 1848–1859 in a dry goods store. He helped supply Mormon
Settlers departing west from Kanesville, into the sparsely settled,
unorganized parts of the Territory of Missouri to the Oregon Country
and the newly conquered
California Territory, through the (eventual)
Nebraska Territory, traveled by wagon trains along the much-storied
Oregon, Mormon, or
California Trails into the newly expanded United
States western lands.
After the first large organized wagon trains left Missouri in 1841,
the annual migration waves began in earnest by spring of 1843. They
built up, thereafter, with the opening of the
Mormon Trail (1846)
until peaking in the later 1860s, when news of railroad's progress had
a braking effect.
By the 1860s, virtually all migration wagon trains were passing near
the renamed town. The wagon train trails became less important with
the advent of the first complete transcontinental railway in 1869, but
while trail use diminished after that, their use continued on at
lesser rates until late in the nineteenth century.
Mormon Battalion began their march from Kanesville to California
during the Mexican–American War. This was where plural marriage
first began to be openly practiced.
Orson Hyde began publishing The
Frontier Guardian newspaper, and
Brigham Young was sustained as the
second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(LDS church). The community was transformed by the
Rush, and the majority of
Mormons left for
Utah by 1852.
Lincoln Memorial at Council Bluffs, marking where President Abraham
Lincoln was said to have selected this site as the eastern terminus of
the Transcontinental Railroad.
1852–1900 Council Bluffs and Beginning of Railroad Era
In 1852, the town was renamed Council Bluffs. It continued as a major
outfitting point on the
Missouri River for the
Emigrant Trail and
Pike's Peak Gold Rush, and entertained a lively steamboat trade.
In 1863 an anonymous soldier on his way to fight the Dakota Uprising
passed through Council Bluffs and described a hardscrabble town:
At Council Bluffs our arrival was greeted by a few rounds from the old
six pounder, while the streets were lined with a curiosity-seeking
class of humanity, among which could easily be traced the physiognomy
of bipeds of almost every clime—all here to make money. The cute
Yankee whittling out wooden hams to sell to Pikes' Peak emigrants, the
Chatham Street peddler, with his stock of "oht clo's," ready to swear
that he had them manufactured expressly for his western trade; the
mock auctioneer, the jeweler with his pinchback jewelry of all kinds;
horse and mule jockeys, gamblers, thieves, assassin—and the mischief
knows what not, rather than what is—all congregated in this little
7×9 city, stuck in a great ravine, 3 miles from the Missouri River.
When you understand that this is the great entrepot for emigration
across the Plains, you will readily comprehend that this is a good
point at which to "take stranger in," and it is done almost every day.
Our stay at Council Bluffs was very short (two days) and I think no
one was sorry to leave it.
— Soldier of the 6th
Iowa Cavalry, Linn County Register, 15 August
Council Bluffs (rather than Omaha) was designated by Abraham Lincoln
as the official starting point of the transcontinental railroad which
was completed in 1869. The official "Mile 0" start is at 21st Street
and 9th Avenue which is now marked by a gold spike that was used for
the promotion of the movie Union Pacific Council Bluffs physical
connection to the
Transcontinental Railroad was delayed until 1872
Missouri River Bridge opened (railroad cars had
to be ferried across the
Missouri River from Council Bluffs to Omaha
in the early days of the Transcontinental).
Chicago and North Western Railway arrived 1867. Other railroads
operating in the city came to include the Chicago, Rock Island and
Chicago Great Western Railway, Wabash Railroad,
Illinois Central Railroad,
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and
the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.
The Grenville M. Dodge House, built in 1869 and listed on the National
Register of Historic Places
In 1926, the portion of Council Bluffs west of the Missouri River
seceded to form Carter Lake, Iowa. Carter Lake had been cut off by a
change in the course of the Missouri River.
By the 1930s, Council Bluffs had grown into the country's fifth
largest rail center. The railroads helped the city become a center for
grain storage, and massive grain elevators continue to mark the city's
skyline. Other industries in the city included Blue Star Foods,
Dwarfies Cereal, Frito-Lay, Georgie Porgie Cereal, Giant
Manufacturing, Kimball Elevators, Mona Motor Oil, Monarch, Reliance
Batteries, Woodward's Candy, and World Radio. During the 1940s, Meyer
Lansky operated a greyhound racing track in Council Bluffs.
Restructuring of the railroad industry caused the loss of many jobs
after the mid-20th century, as did the restructuring of heavy
industry. Many jobs moved offshore. By the late 20th century the city
and region were suffering economic stagnation and a declining
population, as they struggled to develop a new economy. Downtown urban
renewal was undertaken to create a new future while emphasizing the
strengths of heritage.
Council Bluffs is located at 41°15′13″N 95°51′45″W /
41.25361°N 95.86250°W / 41.25361; -95.86250 (41.253698,
According to the United States
Census Bureau, the city has a total
area of 43.62 square miles (112.98 km2), of which 40.97 square
miles (106.11 km2) is land and 2.65 square miles (6.86 km2)
Council Bluffs covers a unique topographic region originally composed
of prairie and savanna in the
Loess Hills with extensive wetlands and
deciduous forest along the Missouri River. Excellent vistas can be had
KOIL Point at Fairmont Park, the Lincoln Monument, Kirn Park, and
Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark Monument.
Lake Manawa State Park
Lake Manawa State Park is located at the
southern edge of the city.
For the 1820s era United States Army outpost, see Fort Atkinson
Iowa Data Center
Source: U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 62,230 people, 24,793
households, and 15,528 families residing in the city. The population
density was 1,518.9 inhabitants per square mile (586.5/km2). There
were 26,594 housing units at an average density of 649.1 per square
mile (250.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.9% White, 1.9%
African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 3.6% from other
races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race
were 8.5% of the population.
There were 24,793 households of which 31.6% had children under the age
of 18 living with them, 41.4% were married couples living together,
15.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.2% had a
male householder with no wife present, and 37.4% were non-families.
30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.01.
The median age in the city was 35.9 years. 24.1% of residents were
under the age of 18; 10.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.1%
were from 25 to 44; 25.6% were from 45 to 64; and 13.5% were 65 years
of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.7% male and
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,268 people, 22,889
households, and 15,083 families residing in the city. The population
density was 1,558.7 people per square mile (601.9/km²). There were
24,340 housing units at an average density of 651.1 per square mile
(251.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.76% White, 1.05%
Black or African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.59% Asian, 0.03%
Pacific Islander, 1.81% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more
races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.45% of the population.
There were 22,889 households out of which 31.6% had children under the
age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living
together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and
34.1% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of
individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age
or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family
size was 3.03.
Age spread: 26.0% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from
25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or
older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were
93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7
The median income for a household in the city was $36,221, and the
median income for a family was $42,715. Males had a median income of
$30,828 versus $23,476 for females. The per capita income for the city
was $18,143. About 8.2% of families and 10.3% of the population were
below the poverty line, including 14.0% of those under age 18 and 6.9%
of those age 65 or over.
Downtown Council Bluffs looking west along East Broadway.
Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs
Downtown Council Bluffs historically covered the area along West
Broadway and adjacent streets from Old Town west to the
North Western Transportation Company Railroad passenger depot at 11th
Street. Downtown developed as the economic rival of Old Town after the
1853 opening of the Pacific House Hotel by Samuel S. Bayliss through
the 1867 completion of the
Chicago and Northwestern. In 1899, the
Illinois Central passenger depot opened at 12th St. and West Broadway.
1916 panoramic photograph of West Broadway between 1st Street on the
right to the Council Bluffs
Post Office and Federal Building at 6th
Street on the left when this was part of the Lincoln Highway.
The area declined as the city's primary retail center after the 1955
completion of the Broadway Viaduct, 1970s urban renewal, and the 1984
opening of the Kanesville Boulevard
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6 bypass. Remaining
buildings of note include the 1959 Council Bluffs
Post Office and
Federal Building at 6th Street, the 1986 "Red" Nelson Building, the
501 Main Building, the substantially altered 1909
City National Bank
Building, and the 1968 First Federal Building. The 1947 State Savings
Bank Building at 509 West Broadway and the seven-story 1924 Bennett
Building at 405 West Broadway are both listed on the National Register
of Historic Places. The 100 Block of West Broadway is a historic
district listed on the
National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places and the
1892 Broadway United
Methodist Church at West Broadway and 1st St.
remains a prominent community landmark.
Old Town Council Bluffs was adjudged by Judge Frank Street in the
1850s as the area between West Broadway and Glen Avenue and East
Broadway and Frank Street from Harmony Street south to Pierce Street.
Today this area encompasses Billy Caldwell‘s settlement of
Potawatomi on Indian Creek during the 1830s and Kanesville established
Mormons as Miller's Hollow in 1848. Kanesville was the home of
Mormon leaders Orson Hyde, George A. Smith, and
Ezra T. Benson
Ezra T. Benson and
served as a major outfitting point on the
Mormon Trail during the
California Gold Rush. The reconstructed
Kanesville Tabernacle in the
300 block of East Broadway is operated as a museum by the LDS Church.
Golden spike dedicated in 1939 during the world premiere of Union
Pacific at milepost 0.0 of the transcontinental railroad.
The West End is a geographically large area on the flood plain east of
Missouri River and downtown Omaha, Nebraska, west of 10th St. and
the Broadway Viaduct, and north of 9th Ave. and the Union Pacific
Transfer railyards. These neighborhoods of long, tree-shaded avenues
are divided by the commercial corridor of West Broadway (U.S. Route
6), once part of the Lincoln Highway. This stretch of West Broadway
has traditionally had several drive-in fast food restaurants and
automobile dealerships with several grain elevators adjacent along 1st
Avenue. West Broadway ends at the Interstate 480 bridge to downtown
Iowa Highway 192 follows North 16th St. from West Broadway to
Interstate 29. Neighborhood landmarks include the 1890s Illinois
Missouri River bridge,
Stan Bahnsen Park, the Golden
Spike monument, the Narrows River Park, Big Lake Park, the site of
Dodge Park Playland, the Dodge Christian Church (built with the N.P.
Dodge Memorial funds) and many examples of late 19th and early 20th
century residential architecture. The West End was used as a location
by film director
Alexander Payne in the movies
Citizen Ruth and About
Casino Row is located on and near the
Missouri River south of West
Broadway and Interstate 480, west of South 35th St. and Interstate 29,
and north of
Interstate 80 along 23rd Avenue west of South 24th St.
The opening of the Bluffs Run Greyhound Park in 1986, now the
Horseshoe Council Bluffs, was followed in the mid-1990s by riverboat
casinos operated by Ameristar and Harvey's Casino Hotel (now Harrah's
Council Bluffs). New development in this previously industrial area
has included the Mid-America Center, several restaurants and hotels,
AMC Theatres with an IMAX, and a Bass Pro Shops. The appearance of
legalized gambling in Council Bluffs became a major issue in
neighboring Omaha where
Hal Daub had declared
Iowa an "XXX
state" in 1995 as horse-racing came to an end at Ak-Sar-Ben.
City is located south of where
Interstate 29 splits from
Interstate 80, east of South Omaha, Nebraska, west of Indian Creek,
and north of the
South Omaha Bridge Road (
U.S. Route 275
U.S. Route 275 and Iowa
Highway 92). This neighborhood developed mostly during the 1960s for
workers in nearby Omaha factories and at Offutt Air Force Base. The
Interstate 80 Exit at 1-B at South 24th Street includes two large
truck stops, a Sapp Brothers and a Pilot Travel Centers, along with
several motels, the Western Historic Trails Center, the Bluffs Acres
manufactured home development, and The Marketplace shopping area with
J.C. Penney as its primary tenant. The Willows on the South Omaha
Bridge Road is an example of mid-20th century roadside motel
architecture and Bart's Motel further east at South 24th St featured
prominent neon signage, was used as a location in the motion picture
The Indian Runner, and has since been demolished.
Manawa is the portion of Council Bluffs from the combined Interstate
Interstate 29 south to the city limits between Mosquito and
Indian Creeks. The area was developed as a trolley park by the Omaha
and Council Bluffs Streetcar Company after the former channel of the
Missouri River was "cut-off" during an 1881 flood to become modern
Lake Manawa State Park. Later development followed the establishment
U.S. Route 275
U.S. Route 275 and the completion of
Interstate 80 with additional
growth during the 1990s. A variety of fast food restaurants, motels,
big-box stores, a
TravelCenters of America
TravelCenters of America truck stop, automobile
dealerships, and other businesses are located between Interstate 80
Interstate 29 south to the state park. The Lake Manawa Inn hosts
early examples of roadside cabin architecture. In February and March,
bald eagles & red-tailed hawks can frequently be seen at Lake
Manawa, particularly along the southwest shore.
Fishermen on the
Missouri River in Council Bluffs, facing the Union
The South End is bordered by 12th Avenue on the north, South 16th St.
Union Pacific Transfer railyards on the west, Interstate 80
Interstate 29 on the south, and the South Expressway (
192) on the east. This neighborhood developed during the late 19th
century with the railroads, especially the Chicago, Rock Island and
Pacific Railroad, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, and the
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. In the early 20th century
much of the area was dubbed "Dane Town" or "Little Copenhagen" for the
large number of Danish immigrants with several Croatian and Mexican
families closer to the
Union Pacific railyards at "Little Vienna".
Neighborhood landmarks include Peterson Park, Longfellow School, and
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific passenger depot, now the
RailsWest Railroad Museum.
The Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial
The Oakland-Fairview neighborhood developed during the 1890s and
features a wealth of 19th-century architecture, including the Judge
Finley Burke mansion at 510 Oakland built in 1893 out of Minnesota
granite. The neighborhood is also home to the Lincoln Monument.
Located at the western end of Lafayette Avenue, the monument was
erected in 1911 by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American
Revolution that, according to folklore, commemorates the spot where
Abraham Lincoln decided on the location of the transcontinental
railroad in 1859. The monument offers expansive views across the West
End in the
Missouri River Valley to Omaha, Nebraska. Nearby is the
entrance to Fairview Cemetery, situated on the north side of Lafayette
Avenue, which predates the establishment of the present city and
includes the Kinsman Monument and the burial place of many early
settlers, including Amelia Bloomer. At the east end of Lafayette
Avenue where it intersects with North Second Street stands the Ruth
Anne Dodge Memorial, the "Black Angel" designed by Daniel Chester
French, although the wife of
Grenville Dodge is actually buried
elsewhere in Council Bluffs.
Madison Avenue is the area of Council Bluffs adjacent to Exit 5 of
Interstate 80 along Madison and Bennett avenues, Valley View Drive,
and the area between
Iowa Highway 92 north to McPherson Avenue.
Mosquito Creek flows through this area which was originally notable
Potawatomi gristmill and now includes the usual roadside gas
stations, fast food restaurants, motels, and the tracks of the Iowa
Interstate Railroad. Plans for a shopping mall here first appeared in
1972 and construction finally began on the Mall of the Bluffs in 1985.
A Sears, Old Navy, and Barnes & Noble later opened at the mall
which is owned by
General Growth Properties
General Growth Properties with adjacent commercial
Hy-Vee and No Frills Supermarkets. Residential growth
east of the railroad tracks towards State Orchard Road and the Council
Bluffs Municipal Airport and north to
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6 has included
developments outside the Council Bluffs city limits. Original anchor
J.C. Penney and Target both relocated from the Mall of the
Bluffs in 2008.
The Huntington Avenue neighborhood consists of early 20th century
Craftsman homes that wind along the top of the
Loess Hills past the
1925 studio of radio station KOIL, now apartments.
The historic Council Bluffs'
Red-light district was formed during the
late 19th century, when at least 10 separate brothels were located on
Pierce Street east of Park Avenue with another three brothels down the
block on the south side of West Broadway east of Park. One 1890
newspaper article referenced in Lt. RL Miller's "Selected History of
the Council Bluffs Police" noted the "places of vice and corruption on
Pierce" and Stella Long's above the Ogden House along with the
"terrible den at the corner of Market and Vine" and Belle Clover's
bagnio at 8th St. and West Broadway.
The liberalization of
Iowa gambling laws was followed by the opening
of The Bluffs Run Greyhound Park in 1986. By 2005, Council Bluffs was
the 19th largest casino market in the United States, with revenue
equaling nearly $434 million. Casinos include
Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs, Harrah's Council Bluffs, and
the Horseshoe Council Bluffs.
Council Bluffs industry includes "frozen foods, robotics, dairy
products, plastics, railroading, electrical products, and pork and
beef packaging" per the city's website. American Games (a
manufacturer of lottery gaming products), Barton Solvents, Con-Agra,
Grundorf, Katelman Foundry, Omaha Standard Palfinger (a truck body
manufacturer established 1926), Red Giant Oil, and
Tyson Foods have
manufacturing plants in the city.
Griffin Pipe Products, established in 1921, closed its plant employing
about 250 people in March 2014, when it was bought by U.S. Pipe and
Foundry, based in Birmingham, Alabama. Griffin Wheels, a part of
American Steel Foundries, was one of the largest US manufacturers of
iron railroad-car wheels until it switched to pipes in the 1960s.
Mid-American Energy built a new coal-fired plant in 2007; the billion
dollar investment was the single largest private investment in
Iowa’s history up until then.
Google began construction of a server farm on the former site
of the Council Bluffs Drive-in theater, on Veterans Memorial Highway.
This first phase, completed in 2009, was to create "200 high quality
jobs". The second
Google campus, on Bunge Avenue, had an open
house in October 2013, employing 50 people who are "installing and
Google servers and providing maintenance on equipment".
In March 2014, a third phase, the Southlands expansion, was announced,
creating 35 additional jobs and bringing Google's investment up to
$1.5 billion, the largest private investment in Iowa’s history to
date. The state increased its tax abatement of sales and use tax
Google from $9.6 million to $16.8 million. As of July
Google stated it created 130 jobs  and as of June
2016 "over 300 jobs" on site.,
In 2010, the
Iowa Department of Natural Resources found that air in
central Council Bluffs measured above the national air quality
standard for lead, most likely due to lead emissions in this area by
Griffin Pipe Products Company. In 2011, EPA found numerous
violations of the Clean Water Act, because the plant's contaminated
stormwater commingled with treated process wastewater and was pumped
out to the storm sewer, which discharged into the Missouri River.
Arts and culture
Council Bluffs is the location of the
Pottawattamie County "Squirrel
Cage" Jail, in use from 1885 until 1969, which is one of three
remaining examples of a Rotary Jail. Listed on the National Register
of Historic Places, it was built as a rotary jail with pie-shaped
cells on a turntable somewhat based on Jeremy Bentham's panopticon. To
access individual cells, the jailer turned a crank to rotate the
cylinder until the desired cell lined up with a fixed opening on each
floor. According to the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County,
the Squirrel Cage Jail is the only three-story rotary jail
constructed. Although the rotary mechanism was disabled in 1960, the
building remained the county jail for another nine years. Similar,
smaller examples of the concept can be seen in Crawfordsville, Indiana
and Gallatin, Missouri.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum in the former
Carnegie Library in
downtown Council Bluffs
The city's strong ties to the railroad industry are commemorated by
three local museums. The
Union Pacific Museum is located in the former
Council Bluffs Free Public Library (a Carnegie library), at Pearl
Street and Willow Avenue; the
Grenville Dodge Home is on Third Street;
RailsWest Railroad Museum
RailsWest Railroad Museum is at South Main Street and
Sixteenth Avenue. RailsWest is housed in an 1899 Chicago, Rock Island
and Pacific Railroad passenger depot later shared with the Milwaukee
Road, which was used by the Rocky Mountain Rocket, the Arrow, and the
Midwest Hiawatha. RailsWest features an outdoor display of historic
train cars, including a Railway
Post Office car, two steam
locomotives, two cabooses, a Burlington Lounge car, and a 1953
switcher produced by the Plymouth Locomotive Works.
Iowa West Foundation, the charitable wing of the local gambling
industry, funded a public art planning process for Council Bluffs in
2004 that emphasized a 2015 goal for the city to become "a prosperous
urban area known for its cultural enlightenment and public art
To this end the city renovated Bayliss Park in downtown, which was
re-dedicated in early 2007 with a new fountain dubbed Wellspring. Its
performance pavilion, known as Oculus, was designed by sculptor Brower
Hatcher. This was the first installation of the
Iowa West Public Art,
a foundation established during the Public Art Master Planning
Iowa West Foundation then established IWPA along with
public art website. In 2008 a 50-foot (15 m)-tall Molecule Man
Jonathan Borofsky was installed at the Mid-America
Center; nearby sculptures were designed by William King and Jun
Albert Paley designed elements of the nearby South 24th Street
bridge at Exit 1B of the combined
Interstate 29 and
Interstate 80 at
Council Bluffs and Ed Carpenter designed Gateway for the West Broadway
Dan Corson and the Big Mo by
Mark di Suvero
Mark di Suvero are
featured at Tom Hanfan's River's Edge Park along the banks of the
Council Bluffs is also home to the Chanticleer Community Theater, TVI
Filtration Corporation (a major supplier of discount automotive
Hamilton College (Iowa)
Hamilton College (Iowa) which is now part of Kaplan
University – Council Bluffs.
The black squirrel is the city's mascot.
John James Audubon
John James Audubon reported
the squirrels in 1843, along the
Missouri River at Council Bluffs.
For one week in late July/early August, the annual Pottawattamie
County Fair is held at Westfair grounds. There are carnival rides,
concerts, gun shows, tractor races, and a queen contest.
Iowa Blackhawks (later known as the Council Bluffs Express) of the
American Professional Football League
American Professional Football League played at the Mid-America Center
from 2004 until 2012. The
Mid-America Center was also home to the
Omaha Lancers from 2002 until 2008.
Public education in the city of Council Bluffs is provided by two
school districts: Council Bluffs Community School District and
Lewis Central Community School District. Most of the city is
located within the Council Bluffs Community School District, which
operates of public schools, the following: 14 elementary schools,
three middle schools, three high schools (
Abraham Lincoln and Thomas
Jefferson), Tucker Center career center, and Kanesville alternative
high school. As of the 2008–2009 school year, district had a total
enrollment of 9,246. The Lewis Central Community School District
(one high school, one middles school, and two elementary schools)
serves the southern portion of Council Bluffs and enrolled 3,047
students as of the 2008–2009 school year.
There are several private schools in Council Bluffs, including
Community Christian School, Heartland Christian School, Liberty
Christian School, Saint Albert Catholic Schools, and Trinity Lutheran
Iowa School for the Deaf moved to the south edge of Council Bluffs
in 1870 along what is now
Iowa Highway 92. It is open to all students
Iowa and Nebraska who are younger than 21 and whose hearing
loss places them at a disadvantage in the public schools.
Iowa Western Community College is located on the eastern edge of
Council Bluffs near the intersection of
Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 6
and is the home of the radio station KIWR.
Buena Vista University
Buena Vista University also
has a location in Council Bluffs and partners with
Community College to offer bachelor's degree completion programs to
The city is well served by Interstate 80, Interstate 29, U.S. Route 6,
Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. The Union Pacific, BNSF,
Iowa Interstate, and
Canadian National Railroads all connect in
Council Bluffs and carry important freight traffic. MidAmerican Energy
has a large coal-burning power plant near the southern city limits.
Afghanistan (since 2016)
Afghanistan (since 27 January 2018)
Stan Bahnsen: pitcher for six
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball teams
Christian Beranek: writer and producer
Gladden Bishop: contender for the presidency of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints after Joseph Smith's death on June 27,
Amelia Bloomer (1818–1894): 19th century suffragist
Phineas F. Bresee
Phineas F. Bresee (1838–1915): founder of the Church of the
Sam Brown: organizer Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, former
Colorado state treasurer
Jonathan Browning: gunsmith
Martin Burns: championship wrestler, founder of mail-order "Farmer
Burns Scientific School of Wrestling"
Walter Cassel: opera singer
Don Chandler (1934–2011) NFL football player
Janet Dailey, romance novelist
Lee De Forest: inventor, the "Grandfather of Television"
Pierre-Jean De Smet:
Grenville Dodge: U.S. Congressman, Civil War general, chief engineer
Union Pacific during construction of the transcontinental
John Durbin: actor
Frank F. Everest: Air Force general and Commander in Europe during the
Addison Farmer: jazz musician
Art Farmer: jazz musician
William Harrison Folsom: architect
Joan Freeman: actress, co-starred with
Elvis Presley in Roustabout
Michael Gronstal: former Minority Leader, present
Majority Leader Iowa
Septimus J. Hanna (1845–1921): Christian Scientist, appointed judge
of County Court (then in Council Bluffs) at age 23
Peg Hillias: actress
J. Chris Jensen: architect
Zoe Ann Olsen-Jensen: diver,
1948 Summer Olympics
1948 Summer Olympics silver medalist,
1952 bronze medalist
Clem F. Kimball: Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
Harry Langdon: silent movie star
Ben Leber: professional football player
Sagan Lewis: actress (St. Elsewhere)
Jon Lieber: professional baseball player
Carlos Martinez: professional football player
John S. McCain, Jr.: Navy Admiral, father of U.S. Senator and
presidential candidate John S. McCain III
William Pfaff: journalist
Arnold Potter: leader of an LDS splinter group and self-proclaimed
Nathan M. Pusey: educator, former president of Harvard University
Robert Ben Rhoades: serial killer
Lula Greene Richards: poet
Sauganash or Billy Caldwell:
Potawatomi spokesman, son of William
Charles Roscoe Savage: photographer
Hans Schlegel: astronaut
Ernest Schoedsack: film director, including the original King Kong and
Mighty Joe Young
Coleen Seng: former
Mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska
Bob Smith: football player
Jerry Smith, professional golfer
William Smith, 1952 gold medalist in Olympic wrestling
Ron Stander: boxer, the "Bluffs Butcher" who fought
Joe Frazier in
1972 for the heavyweight title
Marjabelle Young Stewart: etiquette expert
Jack Lawrence Treynor (February 21, 1930 – May 11, 2016): Editor,
Financial Analysts Journal
Jake Waters: football player
Watseka: niece of
Potawatomi Chief, married to Gurdon Saltonstall
Hubbard and Noel Le Vasseur
Raymond R. Wright: Marine Corps General during World War II
David Yost: actor
Ryan Roenfeld: historian and writer
History of Omaha
Route of the Oregon Trail
Winter Quarters, Nebraska
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Council Bluffs.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
City of Council Bluffs
Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce
Historical Society of Pottawattamie County
Pottawattamie County Genealogical Society
Council Bluffs Public Library
Council Bluffs Pride
Downtown Council Bluffs
Council Bluffs Forum
Iowa West Public Art Council Bluffs' public art program
City Data Comprehensive Statistical Data and more about Council
Coordinates: 41°15′11″N 95°51′43″W / 41.253°N
95.862°W / 41.253; -95.862
Municipalities and communities of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United
County seat: Council Bluffs
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or
Metropolitan area of Omaha–Council Bluffs
Cities over 10,000
(per 2010 Census)
Cities of 5,000 to 10,000
(per 2010 Census)
Cities of 1,000 to 5,000
(per 2010 Census)
Cities and villages
of fewer than 1,000
(per 2010 Census)
City of Council Bluffs, Iowa".
City of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Retrieved September 2, 2012.
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Oregon: Webb Research Group. p. 80. ISBN 0-936738-21-9. Apr
21  Thursday. We traveled 18 miles came to camp ½ mile east of
Kanesville by four oclock
^ Mullen, Frank (1925) "Father De Smet and the Pottawattamie Indian
Iowa Journal of History and Politics 23:192–216.
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Missouri River Valley, 1839: What Did He See in Iowa?", Journal of the
Iowa Archeological Society 55:1–13.
^ Mullen, Frank (1925) "Father De Smet and the Pottawattamie Indian
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^ Laveille, E. (1915) The Life of Father De Smet, S. J., New York:
Kenedy and Sons, p.83
^ website on Kanesville history
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^ "American FactFinder". United States
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^ "Our City". Council Bluffs
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^ Earl, David (4 March 2014). "Alabama company to close Griffin Pipe
plant". KETV7 News. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
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'devastating'". Omaha.com. World-Herald News Service. Retrieved 22
^ a b "
City of Council Bluffs Independent Auditor's Report June 30,
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Google shows off new Council
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^ a b Ford, George (28 March 2014). "
Google plans to double size of
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Google data centers, Council Bluffs, Iowa". Google. n.d. Retrieved
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Google data centers, Council Bluffs, Iowa". Google. n.d. Retrieved
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^ "Portion of Council Bluffs Exceeds Lead National Air Quality
Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 24 November 2011.
Retrieved 21 July 2014.
^ "Findings of Violation-Order for Compliance Docket No.
CWA-07-2011-0105" (PDF). EPA. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 21 July
^ "Westfair Fairgrounds and Amphitheater". Westfair. Retrieved 14
^ Welcome to Council Bluffs Community School District.
Council-bluffs.k12.ia.us. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
^ Lewis Central Community Schools. Lewiscentral.org. Retrieved on
^ a b "2008–2009
Iowa Public School PreK-12 Enrollments by District,
Grade, Race and Gender" (XLS).
Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of
Planning, Research, and Evaluation. 2009-02-04. Retrieved
^ "Biographical History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa". Mrs. Amelia
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Nazarene University" (PDF). MAN OF THE MORNING. Nazarene Publishing
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^ "National Football League". player-Don Chandler. Retrieved
^ "Project Vote Smart". Senator Michael Gronstal. Retrieved
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Clem F. Kimball
Clem F. Kimball Archived May 12, 2012, at the
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