As part of our Iowa road trip last week Synergy Paranormal Investigations, Harvard, NE took in the Squirrel Cage jail as the second leg of our journey. The jail is a unique and historic location and the purported haunting phenomena is only a plus.
The jail was built in 1885 and was in continuous use until 1969. It was purchased by the historical society and has been used for historical tours in an effort to keep the building alive. This landmark is touted as a one-of-a-kind structure. There are two other revolving jails in the country (both are also preserved as museums) but the Squirrel Cage Jail is the only three-story human rotary jail ever built. It is amazing architecture.
The jail was uniquely designed to allow the jailer to control the prisoners without personal contact between them. It provided maximum security with minimal jailer interaction. There are three floors of revolving pie-shaped jail cells inside a cage. The cells are tiny. There is no furniture, only a steel cot on the wall, and a small open urinal area in the back of the cell for toileting needs. The prisoners were allotted a blanket but there were no mattresses on the cold steel bed. They were allowed a weekly shower (with their clothes on) in the shower area of the jail.
The front section of the building housed the jailer’s offices, the kitchen, trustee cells, and the quarters for women. There is a section in the cells dedicated to women and children who were either incarcerated or were placed there because their parents were prisoners. That was an emotional spot for me. Many had carved their names on the walls in childlike scribbles. Some scripts listed entire families with four to five boys names written in crooked lines down the walls. What an awful existence—even for 90-120 days.
The fourth floor houses an apartment where the jailers lived. It is roomy with plenty of space for a family. One of the apparitions most often seen is that of a jailer named Otto. In later years, an unmarried jailer opted to move to another area of the jail because of the paranormal activity he experienced in Otto’s place.
Some of our personal experiences at the jail include hearing unexplained footsteps on the steel floors, the shutting of a door when nobody was there to close it, whispered voices, and fleeting shadows in the cells.
We haven’t worked through our audio and video evidence yet but I wanted to share some information about this unusual location. If you’re a paranormal investigator looking for a great location or a history buff who enjoys unique buildings be sure to look up the Squirrel Cage Jail when you’re in the area. The folks here will welcome you warmly and it’s an awesome place to be!
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Mojo is a fast paced paranormal thriller.
If you’ve got Mojo; look for upcoming releases in 2011
Edgy and fun, this book will show the reader how having faith in a power greater than ourselves will lift us through even the most unforeseeable obstacles in life.