January 2024- Let's Get Started!

Monday, January 8, 2024 9:50 AM

We have a slew of ideas and plans for 2024!  One being this monthly blog post, where we plan to talk about our upcoming events and the projects we are working on at the museums.  

On the fourth Saturday of each month we will be working on various projects at the RailsWest Railroad Museum.  This month we will be doing most of the work behind the scenes in our archival areas.  We will be reorganizing our back rooms in order to be as efficient with our space as possible, while creating a more interactive workspace.  We will also be covering the museum windows with UV film to better protect the displays, and it will be more heat/ac efficient.  Which in an old building can be very important!  

We hope this blog will allow us to have an open discourse and that you will share your thoughts with us. 

History isn’t owned by one person, it is shared.   

It’s old!  Why should I care?

The mission of the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County is to preserve the past for present and future generations, but what does that mean?  Our organization started in 1907 which is history in and of itself.  Today we want to make sure the voices of our community are heard, and that they live on.  We are making history now, and in order to be the best stewards we can we plan to record the history of now. 

In our efforts to preserve our local history and culture we are focusing our efforts in 2024 on the RailsWest Railroad Museum.  We have been working on the question: what does Council Bluffs need?  In our opinion, we need a place to learn, create, and listen to the history of our rich city. 

Did you know that Council Bluffs moved the mail?  Up to twenty-five million pieces of mail a year passed through in the early 1900s all hand sorted! 

You’ve probably heard of the tv show M*A*S*H, well did you know MASH units got their start right here in Council Bluffs, it was called Unit K, Mobile Hospital #1, or The Council Bluffs Unit.  This courageous unit of Council Bluffs men and women served in WWI.

Finally, what is Council Bluffs like without the Transcontinental Railroad?  If the transcontinental railroad had started elsewhere the best guess is the metro area would be much smaller; some prognosticators have speculated the Council Bluffs/Omaha population would be closer to ten thousand than the nearly one million it is today.  Would UP Chief Engineer Dodge have built his home in Council Bluffs if he had been working out of a different city?  The "Squirrel Cage" jail came into being because the explosive growth of the city fueled by the railroads outpaced the efforts of law enforcement to keep up. 

In essence everything starts and ends with the Railroads.  The beloved past president of the Historical Society,  Art Rogers once said, “Study the railroads, and you’re studying Council Bluffs history”.  How right he was!