Pottawattamie County Jail, Council Bluffs
Time of Operation: 1885 to 1969
Aka, the “Squirrel Cage Jail” is one of three rotary jails in the US. All of which survived as examples of a brief fascination with keeping criminals in rotating cells. This Iowa jail was built in 1885, with three floors that revolve inside cages, was designed by William H. Brown and Benjamin F. Haugh to minimize the contact between inmates and guards.
By the 1960s, the huge metal turntable was not faring so well and would become stuck often. It was in active use until 1969 when it finally closed its rotating doors to any further offenders. After its closure, the prison was taken over by the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County, and it was designated as a museum site.
Unfortunately, the cage no longer turns, but tours ARE available, where you can still see inmates’ signatures carved into the walls.