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February 18 , 2011

Council Bluffs


All traces of Captain Caldwell’s Potawatomi settlement and the Mormon safe haven of Kanesville were gone from the Indian Creek hollow by 1900, when Council Bluffs already seemed a 20th-century city of bright lights, steam, and smokestacks. The old western trails and steamboats disappeared as the city on the east bank of the Missouri River opposite Omaha became a major American railroad center and the industrial and commercial hub of southwest Iowa. Vineyards and orchards surrounded a growing city, with more acres under glass for greenhouses than anywhere else in the country and a daily stop for the Zephyr, Hiawatha, Rocket, Challenger, and other streamlined passenger trains. The West End was filled in, and new neighborhoods like Danetown and Little Vienna grew with new immigrants. All of the people of Council Bluffs faced fires, floods, and tornados as the “Blue Denim City,” where America’s mail was sorted survived economic upheaval, urban renewal, and eventual resurgence in the last decade of the century.

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