The Squirrel Cage Jail, Part One | Guest Kat Slaughter

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In the 1880s, the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was considered a revolutionary concept in housing inmates.  They claimed the new concept allowed for “maximum security with minimum jailer attention.”  

It was a “19th-century marvel,” constructed so that only one jailor could keep an eye on an entire prison full of prisoners. The cells were all positioned on a central carousel that, when a hand crank was turned, would rotate the cells so that only one could be entered at a time. However, it didn’t take long to realize this concept didn’t work as they thought it would. While the jailer could attend to the one cell – the others were simply trapped. Of the 18 prisons built, most were closed within a couple of years after opening – however – the Squirrel Cage Jail remained in operation until 1969.

But it seems some of those who were once there are still there. Reports of hauntings date back to the 1950s when a jailor refused to sleep in his quarters because he believed it to be haunted. In this episode, we talk about the hauntings of the Squirrel Cage Jail with Kat Slaughter, Director of the Squirrel Cage Jail and RailsWest Railroad Museum.

For more information on the museums as well as tours and paranormal investigations, visit their website thehistoricalsociety.org

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