Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Railroad Days: Historic General Dodge House [Part 2 of 5]

Historic General Dodge House

• 605 Third Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa
www.dodgehouse.org
• 712-322-2406
• Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Closed most holidays and during the month of January.
• Admission: Adults: $7, Seniors (62+): $5, Children (6-16): $3, Children under 6 are free.
There are discounts for group of 20 or more. See website for details.
• Definitely NOT stroller-friendly or handicap-accessible.
• Limited on-street parking

There were actually two houses on this part of the tour. The first house we visited as part of Railroad Days was the August Beresheim House. It is next door to the Dodge House and functions as the orientation center for the Dodge House. It was built in 1899 and used to belong to close associates of General Dodge and his family. There are three floors, although the third floor was roped-off so we were unable to tour it. With a central staircase, bathroom, and four bedrooms – it was definitely spacious for the time period. The original den is now decorated as a child’s playroom, complete with child-size dolls wearing period clothing. There are supposedly bathrooms available behind this house, but we did not utilize them so I can’t comment.

From there, we continued across to the Historic General Dodge House. It is a registered national historic landmark. General Grenville M. Dodge was the chief construction engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad. He participated in the Civil War and hobnobbed several people whose names you will recognize: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Jim Bridger, and Jay Gould.

It is listed on the attraction page of www.councilbluffsiowa.com page as: “This three-story, 14-room, lavish Victorian home, is one of Iowa’s premier historic homes. Built in 1869 by Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War veteran, was dubbed “greatest railroad builder of all time.” The mansion is historically authentic, complete with the majority of original furnishings. Events include a garden walk in July, annual fall tea and a five-week Christmas celebration where the house is decorated in Victorian splendor with more than 25 themed holiday trees.” In 1869, it cost $35,000 to build. That would be over $775,000 in today’s money (based on 1913 to 2008 inflation calculator).

There are some neat items in this house – including a bear trap in the basement, very narrow shoes in the closet of Mrs. Dodge’s room, and a ballroom on the third level. Don’t bring your stroller. Watch your toddlers as they attempt to climb up and down the relatively steep stairs by themselves. (Mine said, “I do it!”)

The volunteers who take you through the tour move you through fairly quickly, so this was not a lengthy stop. I don’t have a lot of interest in this period, but even I found things fascinating – like the pictures in the basement or the stories the volunteers tell you about the house’s history or stories of ‘the day’ such as the ladies cutting off their little toes so they can fit into the very narrow boots we saw.

One of my daughters loved the dolls in the basement with their beautiful clothes. My kids all agreed they liked the real bear trap best, though. Who woulda thunk it?

[This post was submitted by a guest author. You can read more by going to her blog, “Learning As I Go.”]

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