Squirrel Cage Jail Photos: A Glimpse Into History

Squirrel Cage Jail Photos: A Glimpse Into History
Touring the Haunted Squirrel Cage Jail Museum from midwestwanderer.com

The History of Squirrel Cage Jail

Squirrel Cage Jail is a historical landmark located in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was built in 1885 and remained operational until 1969. The jail was named after its unique design, which featured a revolving cylindrical cellblock. The design was meant to make it easier for guards to monitor inmates, as they could be seen from a central location.

The Design of Squirrel Cage Jail

The jail was designed by William H. Brown, a local architect. The revolving cellblock was made up of 90 individual cells, each measuring 7 feet by 4 feet. The cells were stacked three levels high and could hold up to 18 prisoners at a time. The design was intended to be a more efficient way of managing inmates, but it quickly proved to be controversial.

The Controversy Surrounding Squirrel Cage Jail

Critics of the jail argued that the design was inhumane and degrading. Inmates were forced to live in cramped conditions and had little or no privacy. The revolving cellblock also made it difficult for inmates to keep track of time or maintain a sense of orientation. Over the years, there were reports of inmates suffering from mental health issues as a result of their confinement in Squirrel Cage Jail.

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Squirrel Cage Jail Photos

Despite its controversial history, Squirrel Cage Jail remains a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can take guided tours of the jail and see firsthand the conditions that inmates endured. Many visitors also take photos of the jail, both inside and out. These photos provide a glimpse into a bygone era and help to preserve the history of the jail for future generations.

Inside Squirrel Cage Jail

Photos taken inside Squirrel Cage Jail often show the cramped conditions that inmates were forced to live in. The revolving cellblock is also a popular subject for photos, as it is a striking visual representation of the jail’s unique design. Visitors can also see the original cell doors and the guard’s station, which give a sense of what life was like for both inmates and guards.

Outside Squirrel Cage Jail

Photos taken outside Squirrel Cage Jail often focus on the jail’s distinctive architecture. The cylindrical shape of the cellblock is particularly eye-catching, as is the jail’s red brick facade. Visitors can also see the jail’s original entrance and the surrounding neighborhood, which has undergone significant changes since the jail was built.

The Legacy of Squirrel Cage Jail

While Squirrel Cage Jail is no longer operational, it remains an important part of Council Bluffs’ history. The jail serves as a reminder of the harsh conditions that inmates endured in the past and the need for more humane approaches to incarceration. The jail also highlights the importance of preserving historical landmarks and the role they play in educating future generations.

The Future of Squirrel Cage Jail

In recent years, there have been efforts to renovate and preserve Squirrel Cage Jail. The jail has been added to the National Register of Historic Places and is considered a significant cultural resource. While the jail may never be used as a correctional facility again, it will continue to be an important part of Council Bluffs’ history and a popular tourist attraction for years to come.


Squirrel Cage Jail photos provide a glimpse into a unique and controversial part of American history. While the design of the jail may have been intended to be more efficient, it ultimately proved to be inhumane and degrading. Today, the jail serves as a reminder of the need for more humane approaches to incarceration and the importance of preserving historical landmarks. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the past, a visit to Squirrel Cage Jail is sure to be a memorable experience.

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