This is Council Bluffs’ Black Angel
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — General Grenville Dodge is regarded as the finest railroad constructor in history. In addition to becoming a Union Civil War commander, he put Council Bluffs on the map, which contributed to the establishment of Omaha.
He was born, raised, and interred in Council Bluffs.
A memorial in the city honoring his wife, Ruth Anne Dodge, has its own narrative, in a spooky way.
It is commonly referred to as the Black Angel, but its official title is the Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial.
In 1916, Mrs. Dodge was on her deathbed.
“She experienced three visions. Tom Emmett, the executive director of the Historic General Dodge House, reported that each time an angel on a boat invited her to sip from the water of life.
The first two times she was asked, she refused.
“However, she ultimately drank and felt at peace. Ruth Anne Dodge’s daughters, in remembrance of her vision, constructed this statue in 1919, shortly after her death, Emmett explained.
When her daughters were searching for a sculptor to construct the angel statue that stands today, they went to one of the world’s finest, Daniel Chester French.
Emmett stated, “If you’ve been to the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C., you’ve seen his work.” Thus, our neighborhood is home to a world-class artist and a world-class statue.
“However, the woman upon whom it is based, the basis for the Black Angel, led a terrible and tragic existence.”
Audrey Munson was the first supermodel in the country.
Emmett said, “Probably the most sculpted woman ever.”
A little over a decade after the sculpture was erected, Munson’s mother committed her to a mental institution after she attempted suicide.
“She had no visitors for 65 years, and she died at age 104 in an unmarked tomb,” said Emmett. “Therefore, the depiction of the angel is a profoundly terrible figure, and in that sense it is a dark angel.”
What does Emmett have to say about possible hauntings?
“Some individuals believe that if they touch it, they will be cursed. Some individuals claim the area is haunted. I don’t. It represents hope, vitality, and our legacy, in my view.”
Now, Emmett might not believe in ghosts or paranormal activity at the Black Angel, but when my photographer Bo and I came, we intended to use a drone.
The phone that controls the drone was charged upon arrival, but was dead after it was deployed on the site.
Kat Slaughter, director of museums for the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County, stated, “According to the urban legends I’ve heard, the stair numbers change when you go up and down, and if you try to snap pictures, you’ll lose your video.”
Thankfully, we did not lose our film, and we were able to recharge the phone for the drone.
Whether or not the location is haunted is up to you to decide.
“I recommend everyone to visit it at least once,” Emmett remarked.
The Black Angel is located in the Fairview Cemetery at 623 N. 2nd Street in Council Bluffs.
In addition to learning more about the Dodge family by visiting the Historic General Dodge House, you may also learn more about the Dodge family.
The sole National Historic Landmark in Council Bluffs is now a museum that has been meticulously preserved to seem as it did over a century ago.
The museum will also host informative and frightening Halloween twilight tours. To
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