Celebrating Arbor Day


This past Arbor Day, we found ourselves in Nebraska City, at Arbor Lodge, the founding home of it’s namesake celebration. This was our second visit to this State Historical Park, as we were here last May as well.


We enjoyed our time here on this beautiful property and we furthered our education on the rich history of rural Nebraska and the contributions of the Morton family.

The Man

J. Sterling Morton acquired many notable achievements throughout his life. Perhaps his greatest contribution was the creation of Arbor Day and his efforts to the agricultural industry. He served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland and as President of Agriculture for the state of Nebraska.

J. Sterling Morton was quite influential to the shaping of America in the nineteenth century.

Photo hanging in the Morton Mansion which includes President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Sterling Morton

That first Arbor Day, in 1872, more than one million trees were planted. We can only imagine how this changed the desolate landscape of the Great Plains over time. The efforts of J. Sterling greatly contributed to the spirit of conservation that was being fostered in our young nation.

The Mansion

The mansion has been maintained quite well and contains a wealth of knowledge about the past. It truly is a living history museum.


The Tour

A visit to Arbor Lodge begins with an informative video, which lays the foundation for what you will see in the mansion.


You can then tour the home at your leisure.

Our family had the added bonus of receiving a private tour. Chris’ cousin, Laura is the Coordinator at Arbor Lodge. This sweet woman gives one fun tour and her knowledge on the history of this family and the property is beyond extensive.

I love this photo from last year, where Laura is dressed in character and demonstrating the music player:


We created a short video of the mansion for those who wish to take a tour digitally…

This year we visited on the weekend and Chris was able to join in on the tour.

From left to right: Cousin Laura Barry Steinman, Angie, Aunt Mary Ann Barry, Chris, Lexi & Brendan

We even managed to capture a picture in front of the grand staircase both trips:


These photos remind me that we had rainy and cold weather both visits…I suppose that is Nebraska in the spring…

I love that we had multiple visits to learn about the history of Arbor Day and the roots of conservation. It is absolutely fascinating to gain insight on J. Sterling Morton and others such as President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir who played major parts in preserving this beautiful land that we are now touring.

If you find yourself in Nebraska City, this is a lovely place to pause and explore…and enjoy the diversity of trees…


Brendan discovering giant leaves at Arbor Lodge State Park, May 2016

For Information on Arbor Lodge, you can visit their website HERE. You can also find information online for their Tree Adventure as well, which my kids really enjoyed last year.

A special thank you to the Steinman family and Aunt Mary Ann Barry for hosting us over Arbor Day Weekend. From our time at Arbor Lodge to the Sunday morning breakfast fundraiser…it was a wonderful time! We truly enjoyed drawing closer to our Nebraska family as we explored the local history.

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