For my first real Nebraska adventure, we went to……Iowa.
For non-Omahan’s you should know that Council Bluffs is the red-headed step child of this area. Omaha and Council Bluffs are separated by the Missouri River but there is a lot of traffic between the two cities. Council Bluffs if often referred to as “Council-tucky” due to it’s occupants often being….hmm how can I say this…. more on the trashy side. It really is unfortunate because it is a very lovely city and Iowa, as a whole, is really awesome and much more progressive than Nebraska (exp. gay marriage is legal). Also, for some reason Council Bluffs has adopted the black squirrel as their mascot. We almost hit one with our car while driving through town. We have black squirrels in Omaha too. I am guessing they hopped on a river boat and made their journey over at some point to seek a better life. It is appropriate that the first place we stopped was the Historic Squirrel Cage Jail.
This jail’s cylinder design was developed to allow maximum security with minimum jailer attention. However, the walls were plastered with news stories about people escaping. The place has been preserved since it’s last use in the 1960’s and has been examined by several groups interested in the paranormal.
The cells seemed so small. And the area for solitary confinement was the size of gym locker. Touring this jail reminded me just how fat Americans are today. The doorways and hallways were so slight. Walking through with a baby was challenging.
After spending time in a cramped jail we decided to go to look out point (or that’s what I am calling it). There is a place in a very hilly neighborhood of Council Bluffs that overlooks Omaha. It was pretty.
Next to lookout point was the Black Angel.
According to the legend, Mrs. Dodge related to family members that she had a vision of being on a rocky shore and, through a mist, seeing a boat approach. In the prow was a beautiful young woman whom Mrs. Dodge thought to be an angel. The woman carried a small bowl under one arm and extended the other arm toward Mrs. Dodge in an invitation to partake of the water flowing from the vessel. Then, according to accounts later published by Mrs. Dodge’s daughter, Anne, the angel spoke twice, saying: “Drink, I bring you both a promise and a blessing.” The daughter wrote that the vision came three times to her mother and, on the third visit, Mrs. Dodge took the drink as offered and felt “transformed into a new and glorious spiritual being.” Mrs. Dodge died immediately after her supposed third vision, on September 5, 1916. She had died in her sleep at her home in New York. Her body was brought back to Council Bluffs where she was buried in a mausoleum in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
I remember visiting the Black Angel one drunken night when I first moved to Omaha. She is also apparently haunted.
Next stop…the Sandhill Cranes!