Nebraska City: Home of Arbor Day

A statue of Diana, goddess of the woods, rightly eclipses one of J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day.


Every autumn I plan to go down to Nebraska City to take in the fall color.  Most years I don’t make it, but this year I did.  It’s a lovely little town, very picturesque and full of trees, thanks to J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day.  His house and grounds are now part of Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, a lovely place for a picnic and home to more squirrels per square foot than any other place I’ve been, including the UNL campus.  There were seven squirrels within my line of sight every time I looked up from my picnic basket.  This park also has trees that smell just like Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, which made my day since Oregon is one of my all-time favorite states in the nation and a definite tree-lover’s paradise.  This park also has a “whispering bench,” seen in this photo behind the statue of stern J. Sterling.  People can sit at each end of the curved stone bench and whisper to the back of the bench.  The sound weirdly carries around to the other side with crazy acoustical clarity.

Lounging by the fire in the grand lobby of the Lied Lodge

Nebraska City is also home to the Lied Lodge and Conference Center, a gorgeous and thoroughly ecofriendly facility where I attended some great National Writing Project retreats.  Sitting in this grand space makes you feel like you are in one of the grand old National Park lodges.  The fresh apple cider here is the best I’ve ever had– so fresh it tastes like you stuck a straw in a apple!  The pie was also to-die-for.  Only an hour from Omaha and maybe a little more from Lincoln.  Worth the trip.  It’s a whole other side of Nebraska.  Brownville is only a little farther and it, too, is quaint and funky and cool and worth the trip.  Nebraska has so much diversity and so much to offer.  We forget that too often when we spent all of our time in the I-80 corridor running from Omaha to Lincoln.


  1. i really liked this blog. when i went to peru state college nebraska city was the big city close by so i spent uite a bit of time exploring it. i really enjoy the apple products from nebraska city and i can tell that you do too. now i want to drive there and buy a few gallons of cider. though i have never been to the lied lodge it is now a place i want to visit.

  2. nebraska city is a place i really like as well. when i was going to peru state college nebraska city was the the closest “big ” city. i spent many weekend days exploring this historic part of nebraska history. when you mentioned the apple cider it makes me want to go drive to Neb city and buy a few gallons of it.

  3. Love Nebraska City, especially in the fall. It is so beautiful. What would be nice would be to take a group of kids over in the fall and do a nature writing day! That would be an awesome day!

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