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An Ice Union of Two Cities

January 12, 1888, marked not only the famous blizzard but a happier event -- what the Omaha Daily Bee on January 13 called "An Ice Union of Two Cities." Despite the inclement weather, a sleighing carnival in Council Bluffs attracted many Omahans from across the frozen Missouri River. The Bee said:

"The weather was most inauspicious, as the air was filled with snow from early morning until after night set in. Despite the storm, about five hundred sleighs belonging to citizens of the Bluffs turned out to do honor to the visitors, who were met at the river's bank and escorted through the city. The Omahans arrived in about two hundred and seventy-five sleighs and were accompanied by a fine band. Owing to the storm the line became broken, and the proposed line of march through the city was abandoned, and it was impossible to get an accurate count of the number of sleighs in the procession, but from his position at the corner of Broadway and Main street, the BEE counted 768 of them, and this number cannot be far from correct.

"The course was taken straight up Broadway to the Ogden house [hotel], while for more than an hour the guests were constantly arriving. It seemed as though there was no end to the procession, and at 3 o'clock both Broadway and Second streets were lined on either side with rows of teams for more than two blocks from the Ogden. The guests arrived in one, two and four-horse sleighs, carrying from two to twenty persons each." It was estimated that the crowd included at least 3,000 people, with 800 from Omaha, including students from the Omaha Business College in a chartered, four-horse sleigh.

"The endless throng of white draped figures surged through the doors of the building until the spacious offices, halls, parlors, stair ways and dining hall were completely filled. In the outer halls, brooms and brushes were in great demand, and after removing a part of their snowy covering in this manner, the ladies were escorted to the parlors on the second end floor."

After speeches at the Ogden House, the sleighing carnival participants adjourned to the Masonic Temple, "where dancing was indulged in. During the whole afternoon refreshments were served in the dining hall of the Ogden. Several of the guests returned to the other side of the river early in the afternoon, owing to the increased violence of the storm, although some remained in the city over night."

A second carnival, hosted by Omaha on January 20, was intended to repay the hospitality of Council Bluffs and attracted a large number of sleighs from across the still frozen Missouri River.

"The Road in Winter"

From the John P. Falter Collection. NSHS 10645-3733



(January 2012)



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