Council Bluffs, IA is home to one of the most haunted places in the state, Squirrel Cage Jail. Come Explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.
The Jail was built in 1885 and was in continuous use until 1969. It was acquired by the Council Bluffs Park Board in 1971 for preservation, and was named to the in 1972 by the United States Government. The Historical Society led an effort in 1977 to save the jail, and today owns and operates the facility. The design and size of the Historic Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail make it a one-of-a-kind structure. It was one of 18 revolving (“squirrel cage”, "human rotary", or "lazy Susan") jails built. It is the only three-story one ever built. Built at a cost of about $30,000, our unique jail has three floors of revolving pie-shaped cells inside a cage. The front part of the building had offices for the jailer, kitchen, trustee cells, and quarters for women.The design was the invention of William H. Brown and Benjamin F. Haugh, both of Indianapolis, Indiana. A patent issued to them on July 12, 1881, declared, "The object of our invention is to produce a jail in which prisoners can be controlled without the necessity of personal contact between them and the jailer." It was to provide "maximum security with minimum jailer attention." As one deputy put it, "If a jailer could count ... and he had a trusty he could trust ... he could control the jail".
Historical Society tour guides routinely tell visitors nobody has called the Squirrel Cage Jail home since 1969. Some folks may disagree with that wording: "no BODY" may call it home, but as for spirits, that's a different matter. The feelings of goings on at the jail that are other than mortal dates back to well before the 1885 structure's use as a museum. Bill Foster, who worked as the jailer in 1950's, opted not to use the fourth floor as his apartment, "because of the strange goings-on up there." He reported hearing people walking around on a floor that had nobody on it, a sensation sufficiently concerning to motivate him to bunk on the second level prisoner floor instead. The spirit may actually date back to the jail's origin. A former jail tour guide claimed she believed the ghost to be that of J.M. Carter, the man who oversaw the building's construction. Mr. Carter was the first resident of the top floor apartment and, according to her theory, has never left, continuing to watch over the one-of-a-kind building to this day. There have also been reports of a full body apparition on the fourth floor identified as Otto Gufath, also a former jailer. Museum staff add whatever spirit is present, it is friendly; despite an occasional door that opens by itself, strange lights, or peculiar noises, no one has ever felt frightened or in any danger. There has been some evidence of a female spirit as well. A few years ago a woman working on a project in the building after hours had been experiencing peculiar sensations. She walked through the building and was shocked to see a little girl with a very mournful expression dressed entirely in gray... inside a cell whose bars were locked with no way in or out. Occasionally, visitors have reported feeling that something was tugging at them, reported a great feeling of sadness in some of the cells, or simply felt that there was a presence there beyond those visible. The feelings or being watched of followed have been most frequently noted on the third and fourth floors though the voice of a little girl has been picked up in various places throughout the building, as has the presence of two ghost cats. Want to see more? Check out the events that are being held here. This property was featured in the 2018 and 2019 "World's Largest Ghost Hunt". Please select tag below to see more like this listing!
This property, as part of our network, has been added for they may have history, validation or folk tales of having spirited activities. Please take caution in approaching and visiting these locations, since courtesy, respect and caution should be top priority in every Haunted Investigator's style. Also do realize, some of these places may have permanently closed, changed ownership and/or names, or just are not available for your visits. Please respect this. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information provided on this listing, but offer it as a first step in finding your next haunted travel destination. Please do confirm with the property before making any plans to visit. If you visit, tour or investigate this property (or any of our properties), we are not responsible or held liable for any outcomes, lack of evidence or injuries associated with your travels. This is only for entertainment purposes, and information provided is only as found in public domains (or as offered by the associated contributor (as a claimed property). For more information, please read our TERMS OF SERVICE (linked below).