This city, which played a major role in emigrant trails and railroad expansion, is home to museums, casinos and a diverse countryside.
Council Bluffs, a quaint city on Missouri River’s east bank, played a key role in 19th-century emigrant trails and rail transportation. Legalized gambling later became an important factor in the area’s economy and tourism. Delve into Council Bluff’s past and see the intriguing blend of landscape, including wetlands, savannas and forests.
Go to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum for information about the city’s role in the expansion of transportation across the U.S. Learn about the construction of the transcontinental railroad, completed in 1869. Visit the Lincoln Monument, a statue that honors the former president’s trip to the area.
The Squirrel Cage Jail & Museum is another institution that reveals the area’s fascinating past. Marvel at the 19th-century building’s “squirrel cage” design. The 10 cells rotated so that only one at a time was accessible to the jailer.
After legalization of gambling, casinos sprang up around the city. Try your luck at the Ameristar Casino Hotel, based in a three-story boat on the Missouri River. Stay for a show after trying some of the 1,000 slot machines at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino and dine at the Horseshoe Casino after hitting the jackpot.
To enjoy the diverse scenery outside the city, drive 15 miles (24.1 kilometers) north to the Hitchcock Nature Center. Explore green sloping fields and prairies in the Loess Hills. The park, which stretches across 1,268 acres (513.1 hectares), preserves the region’s flora and fauna. See the Historic General Dodge House from the 1900s. It contains the original fixtures installed by a civil war veteran.
Try typical Iowan cuisine, such as the pork tenderloin sandwich and the “Walking Taco,” a blend of crushed chips and a taco-seasoned hamburger.
The area has extreme variations in temperature from summer to winter. The city is quite hot between June and August and freezing cold with snow from November through March.
The larger city of Omaha, Nebraska sits just on the other side of the Missouri River. The nearest large transportation hub is Eppley Airfield, a 10-minute taxi ride from Council Bluffs.
Intriguing emigrant history, diverse scenery and casinos lure travelers to Council Bluffs on the Missouri River.