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Arbor Lodge State Historical Park: The Pride Of Nebraska City

Front of Arbor Lodge in Nebraska's state park.

Wikimedia Commons

Just about 45 minutes south of Omaha along the Missouri River, you’ll find Arbor Day Farm, the site of the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum. The 260-acre farm stands as a monument to the founder of Arbor Day, and the stunning park grounds host a ton of fun features like walking trails, special events, and much more.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to wait till Arbor Day to visit this 72-acre park, as many of its facilities are open year-round. Whenever you do end up going, be sure to thank the Arbor Day Foundation and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for their efforts!

The Story of J. Sterling Morton

The life and times of this exceptional man are something of a legend.

J. Sterling Morton moved to the territory of Nebraska with his wife Caroline in the mid 19th century. There, he became the editor of a local newspaper before ascending political ranks to earn a governorship. In 1893, President Grover Cleveland appointed him Secretary of Agriculture.

It was under Morton’s watch that the Nebraska Territory became the 37th state in 1867. Only five years later, he came up with Arbor Day to help increase the amount of trees in the region. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that, which is exactly why you should visit the park.

Arbor Lodge Mansion

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While there are a lot of reasons to visit the park, the mansion is arguably its main draw.

Originally built as a four-room frame house in 1855, the structure grew over time to become the sprawling 52-room behemoth it is today. In 1969, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This architectural marvel now functions as a museum that contains a range of local artifacts.

While the mansion is well known for famous features like its enchanting Tiffany skylight and breathtaking rose garden, there’s a lot more to see across the park.

Must See Features

In addition to its mansion and arboretum, the park has beautiful floral installations, including a terraced Italian garden and 200 varieties of lilacs. Of course, once you’ve had your fill of trees and flowers, be sure to visit the other fun attractions on hand, like the park’s rustic log cabin and authentic carriage house. Meanwhile, kids of all ages will love additions like the park’s Tree Adventure and Treetop Village.

This is by no means a full list of things to do at the park, so be sure to check out their website before you go. Also, if you plan on overnighting in the area, you should definitely consider the onsite Lied Lodge. Luxurious accommodations like its restaurant, spa, and vast meeting space make it a great place to stay whether you’re thinking business or pleasure.

Family Tree

Finally, on to the fun facts:

If you’ve been wondering this whole time whether there’s a relation between J. Sterling Morton and any popular brands, the answer is yes! His son Joy Morton gained control of the famous Morton Salt company in 1889.

However, the Morton Family in question is not responsible for the iconic Steakhouse chain. Trees and Salt will just have to do for this pioneering clan.

Have you been to the park yourself? Tell us all about it on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

READ MORE: 10 National Parks & Places to Visit on Your Next June Vacation