City History

History of the City

French and Spanish explorers and traders were in Council Bluffs for almost a century before the Lewis and Clark expedition stayed five days at White Catfish Camp, known today as Long's Landing. Lewis and Clark later met with Missouri Indians and Otoe Indians 10 miles north of Omaha. This historic council in the bluffs provided the model for future meetings with Indians and the name of our city. 

Notable Visitors, Inhabitants & Progress

The history of Council Bluffs glitters with a parade of famous western explorers, fur traders, military figures, engineers, and great Indian nations. Abraham Lincoln had the foresight to realize Council Bluffs should be the eastern terminus of the transcontinental railroad. Known as the Gateway of the American West, Council Bluffs has a proud and rich history. 
  • Indian Tribes

    Numerous Indian tribes shared hunting rights in the Council Bluffs area and made great contributions to its history.
  • Mormon Refugees

    More than 30,000 Mormon refugees flooded through Kanesville (Council Bluffs) in the mid-1800s on their way to the Great Salt Lake Valley.
  • Abraham Lincoln

    Abraham Lincoln visited Council Bluffs in 1859.

Present-Day Council Bluffs

Today, Council Bluffs' businesses make a national and international impact. Local industry includes frozen foods, robotics, dairy products, plastics, railroading, electrical products, and pork and beef packaging, among many other industries. Recent changes in state law allowed gambling expansion, boosting the local economy and providing hundreds of new jobs. 

For More Information

Read a more robust history of the City of Council Bluffs.