Council Bluffs Blockhouse

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Council Bluffs Blockhouse (1837-1837) - A U.S Army Fort established in 1837 in present-day Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Company C, 1st U.S. Dragoons commanded by Captain D.B. Moore established a post and blockhouse at this location. Abandoned later in 1837.

Council Bluffs Blockhouse Marker.
Council Bluffs Mission Marker.


A Representation of the Original Blockhouse.

On 21 Jul 1837 Captain D. B. Moore, 1st Regiment U.S. Dragoons was selected to command Company C with some 66 men on a mission to protect newly arrive Pottawattamy Indians from any other hostile tribes. Captain Moore was specifically ordered to build a one-story blockhouse about 25' square for use as a hospital or storehouse during their visit. In the original orders, he was also ordered to return to Fort Leavenworth in November of that year. Captain Moore arrived at Council Bluffs on 5 Aug 1837, accomplished his tasks, and departed on 1 Nov 1837 returning to Fort Leavenworth and reporting back to Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, then commanding the 1st U.S. Dragoons.

Note: Colonel Kearney at this point was a believer in a swift show of force to preclude difficulties between Indian tribes and settlers. The sudden appearance of his dragoons in their midst appears to have had a very quieting effect on the Indians. This deployment was probably just that given that a November return was specified in the original orders.
A representation of the Blockhouse Compound after Mission Additions.

Colonel Kearney seems to have turned over the abandoned compound to Father De Smet who arrive at Council Bluffs from St. Louis by the steamboat Howard in May 1838. The mission Father De Smet established at the old blockhouse was named St. Joseph Mission, although it was more commonly referred to as St. Mary Mission. The missionaries built an addition and together with some small cabins given by Chief Caldwell and a dwelling erected in 1839 all served as church or chapel, school, and residence for the missionaries.

The Old Blockhouse and mission buildings remained visible for many years until overbuilt with residences.

Current Status

No visible remains. Two different boulders with plaques mark the spot where the old blockhouse/mission stood. The boulders are located on the south side of East Pierce St., one at the corner of Franklin and the other at the corner with Union St. Both are set back into a steep embankment and are easily overlooked.

Location: Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

Maps & Images

Lat: 41.26425 Long: -95.84044

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 1,044' - Street level

GPS Locations:

See Also:


  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 284.
  • Babbitt, Charles H., Early Days At Council Bluffs, Washington, D. C., Press of Byron S. Adams, 1910, Pdf, page 41-60.


Visited: 31 Jul 2020

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