Cities Near Council Bluffs, IA
Local city information for Council Bluffs, IA
is a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States and is on the east bank of the Missouri River. The population was 58,268 at the 2000 census. Council Bluffs is several decades older than its significantly larger neighbor across the river, the city of Omaha, Nebraska, which was founded by Council Bluffs businessmen and speculators in 1854 following the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
The city was named for the 1804 meeting of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with the Otoe tribe that took place near present-day Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. The area in northwestern Mills County, Iowa across the Missouri River from present-day Bellevue, Nebraska was later known as Council Bluffs.
The present city of Council Bluffs was first settled by Sauganash's band of Potawatomi in 1838 after they were removed from what became Chicago. Sauganash's English name was Billy Caldwell, so the Potawatomis' main settlement was called Caldwell's Camp. The U.S. Army built a small fort near Caldwell's Camp, this post was named the Council Bluffs Blockhouse, and was occupied by the army for about a year. In 1838-1839, the missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet helped establish St. Joesph's Mission, taking over the abandoned Council Bluffs Blockhouse, and ministering to the Potawatomi. De Smet was appalled by the murder and brutality caused by the whiskey trade; he had little success in religious conversions, resorting to secret baptisms of Indian children. During this time he assisted and supported Joseph Nicollet’s efforts at mapping the Upper Midwest. De Smet used newly-acquired mapping skills to produce the first detailed map of the Missouri River valley system, from below the Platte River to the Big Sioux River; this map includes the first detailed map of the Council Bluffs area.
De Smet wrote the earliest descriptions of what would become Council Bluffs: "Imagine a great number of cabins and tents, made of the bark of trees, buffalo skins, coarse cloth, rushes and sods, all of a mournful and funeral aspect, of all sizes and shapes, some supported by one pole, others having six, and with the covering stretched in all the different styles imaginable, and all scattered here in there in the greatest confusion, and you will have an Indian village."
As more Indian tribes were pushed into the Council Bluffs area, inter-tribal conflict increased, fueled by the illegal whiskey trade. Fort Croghan was built in 1842 to keep order and control liquor traffic on the Missouri. In 1844 the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party crossed the Missouri River here and by 1848 the town had become Kanesville
, named for Thomas L. Kane. Built at or next to Caldwell's Camp, Kanesville became the main outfitting point for the Mormon Exodus to Utah. A noted Colorado naturalist, Edwin Carter spent 1848-1859 here working in a dry goods store supplying Mormon wagons.
The Mormon Battalion began their march to California during the Mexican–American War from Kanesville, plural marriage was first openly practiced, and Brigham Young was introduced as the second leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church).
The community was transformed by the California Gold Rush and the majority of Mormons left for Utah by 1852. The town was renamed Council Bluffs and remained a major outfitting point on the Missouri for the Emigrant Trail with a lively steamboat trade. The completion of the Chicago and North Western Railway into Council Bluffs in 1867, the transcontinental railroad in 1869, and the opening of the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge in 1872 made Council Bluffs a major railroad center. Other railroads operating in the city included the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, Chicago Great Western Railway, Wabash Railroad, Illinois Central Railroad, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and made Council Bluffs the fifth largest rail center in the country by the 1930s. The railroads also made Council Bluffs a center for grain storage and several grain elevators continue to dot the city's skyline. Other industries in the city have included Giant Manufacturing, Reliance Batteries, Monarch, Mona Motor Oil, Woodward's Candy, Kimball Elevators, World Radio, Dwarfies Cereal,Georgie Porgie Cereal, Blue Star Foods, and Frito-Lay. In 1926 the portion of Council Bluffs west of the Missouri River seceded to form Carter Lake, Iowa. During the 1940s, Meyer Lansky operated a greyhound racing track in Council Bluffs.
The late 20th century brought economic stagnation, downtown urban renewal, and a declining population. The liberalization of Iowa gambling laws was followed by the opening of The Bluffs Run Greyhound Park in 1986. By 2005 Council Bluffs was the 19th largest casino market in the United States, with revenue equaling nearly $434 million. Casinos include Ameristar, Harrah's, and the Horseshoe Casino which hosted the World Series of Poker in 2007. Tyson Foods, Con-Agra, American Games, Omaha Standard, Barton Solvents, Katelman Foundry, Red Giant Oil, and Griffin Pipe all have manufacturing plants in the city and in June 2007 Google announced that Council Bluffs had been chosen as the location of a new server farm. Interstate 80, Interstate 29, U.S. Route 6, the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, and the Union Pacific, BNSF, Iowa Interstate, and Canadian National Railroads all pass through Council Bluffs and MidAmerican Energy has a large coal-burning power plant near the southern city limits.
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