Arbor Lodge State Historical Park
Arbor Lodge State Park essentially breaks down into two sections, the park/arboretum and the lodge itself.
The park is great, it’s full of a wide variety of trees that have been there, in many cases, for over a hundred years, nice landscaping and is a thoroughly enjoyable place to spend a day or an afternoon. The park itself however is not something you would necessarily go out of your way to see. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful park but it’s not Yellowstone of Yosemite, then again it’s not nearly as far away or full of gawking tourists as those places, so that’s a plus. If you happen to be in the area, on your way through Nebraska City, or interested in what the results of Arbor Day look like, by all means stop and spend an afternoon or a day.
The Arbor Lodge Mansion on the other hand is absolutely worth a special trip for anyone interested in history, Nebraska history, the history of Arbor Day, business history, the Morton family history or just the history of rich people in this part of the country. It’s also interesting to anyone interested in architecture and design.
Arbor Lodge was the family home of the Morton family, it started out as a four room house and ended up as a massive mansion after decades of renovations and expansions. The house is full of period furniture, family artifacts, and displays telling the history of both the lodge and the Morton family. Arbor Lodge is a fascinating look into the lives of one of Nebraska’s most important families and the early history of white settlement in Nebraska as well as the westward expansion of the U.S. in general.
If you’re going to see Arbor Lodge, plan on a minimum of an hour, that’s the absolute minimum unless you’re just sprinting through the house. If you’re interested in the history give yourself more time for reading, photography, and asking questions from the very helpful and knowledgeable ladies at the front. They are a wonderful addition to the mansion and will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Take a trip down to Nebraska City and wander through the Park and the Mansion, it makes for a very pleasant afternoon and unless you have a PhD in Nebraska history you’ll definitely learn something. Honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if someone who did have a PhD in Nebraska History learned something.