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10.19.2006 - 23 comments 

To get back to (and go along with) my fall blog theme, I would like to submit this picture that a took a few falls back at a place called the "Lied Lodge" in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It was one of our first fall trips I ever took in the Midwest. We had heard that Nebraska City was actually the home to Arbor Day and figured that the fall colors there must be good, so off we trecked. The colors were as pretty as any I have ever seen on the upper Eastern Coast of the United States.

At the Lied Lodge, you will find what looks like a giant sized log cabin, with some of the nicest facilites you would find anywhere. You can sit by the huge fireplace, that you can sit in very comfortable rocking chairs and just relax looking across the tree covered area that surrounds the lodge. It makes you feel like you have stepped back a hundred years or so, in just the process of walking through the front doors. The supports for the buliding are none less that giant trees that have been cut down and varnished. They stand at least three stories high and are very impressive just to look at and imagine how big all of those trees must have been when they were alive.

Actually in Nebraska City, they even have a "Tree Adventure" (as they call it) in which, you can discover something NEW (about trees I assume). It is an attraction that surrounds you, touches all your senses, and captivates you with fun and discovery - every time you visit. A visit to Tree Adventure instantly puts you in the midst of both the grand majesty and the up-close excitement of nature. Tree Adventure touches you as you touch nature. Prepare to be swept up by new scents, sounds, sights, and the harmony of the forest. Your soul is soothed - and every sense excited - as you live it up among all the life around you.

In addition to the wonderful Lied Lodge, Nebraska City is also proud to be the home of the national tree-planting holiday, Arbor Day. But they have three day event every year around Arbor Day that is celebrated throughout the community. On Friday, a program to entertain and educate school-aged children is hosted at the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. The events on Saturday and Sunday offer something for everyone. Visitors will take part in new activities at Kimmel Orchard and they will enjoy Fine Arts, the “Blooming for the Future” parade, a craft show, band concert, environmental games, and a variety of festival foods. Demonstrations, education and sales are all part of the weekend. They start the weekend off at Kimmel Orchard on Saturday with the new Arbor Day 5K Trail Run and the Family Discovery Walk, an exploratory journey of fun and learning through the orchard, vineyard and pumpkin patch. The fun continues at Kimmel Orchard all weekend with good treats, the jumping castle, and hayrack rides for the entire family.

Saturday and Sunday they have a Fine Art Show and Sale at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park featuring a variety of fine works from 39 renowned regional and international artists. The Park will also hosts the Southeast Community Band Concert on Sunday; and the Morton Mansion and property will be open for tours throughout the weekend.

Not only is Nebraska home to the Home of Arbor Day and the Lied Lodge, but it is also home of the Morton Mansion that I just mentioned above. The mansion was also a fun tour we took while there. I found out that not only was Julius Sterling Morton, noted politician and together with Robert Furnas (the co-founder of Arbor Day), was born in New York state and educated in Michigan. Morton and his bride, Carolyn Joy, set out for Nebraska territory on their wedding day in the fall of 1854. They soon settled in Nebraska City where he became the editor of the Nebraska News. His life-long interest in writing and publishing began in his grandfather's newspaper office in Michigan.

In the fall of 1855, 23-year old Morton was elected from Otoe County to the territory's 2nd Legislative Assembly and was re-elected in 1857. President James Buchanan appointed him secretary and acting governor of Nebraska Territory 1858-61. Morton was nominated for governor by the Democratic party in 1867 but was defeated by David Butler, who became the first state governor.

During the years between 1867-1882, Morton dropped out of politics and promoted agriculture. He served on the state board of agriculture and was a member of the state horticultural society, advocating improved farming methods, conservation programs, and tree planting.

The State Board of Agriculture, in 1872, adopted Morton's resolution setting April 10 as Arbor Day. This day was to be set aside to plant trees, and to offer a prize to the person who properly planted the most trees. Governor Robert Furnas issued a proclamation in 1874 asking Nebraskans to observe Arbor Day. In 1885 Morton's birthday, April 22, was designated as Arbor Day by the state legislature, and it became a legal holiday in Nebraska. Arbor Day was observed on April 22 until 1989, when by legislative action the holiday was changed to the last Friday in April.

After several unsuccessful campaigns for governor and for the U.S. Senate between 1882 and 1893, Morton was appointed U.S. secretary of agriculture in 1893 by President Grover Cleveland. Morton was the first cabinet member appointed from west of the Missouri River. Morton served four years as secretary of agriculture, then returned to Nebraska City where he published a weekly journal, The conservative.

Arbor Lodge, the name given to Morton's home west of Nebraska City, grew from a four-room farm house into a fifty-two-room mansion, surrounded by a large grove of trees. The house however did not start off as a mansion, but it sure ended up as one, complete with a bowling alley in the basement. There are three stories and a lot of square footage. Most of these trees were planted by Morton and his wife. In 1923 the Morton family donated the house and grounds to the State of Nebraska as a monument to Morton. Today Arbor Lodge is a state historical park. A bronze statue of Morton, cast by Rudulph Evans, and financed by school children and other friends, was erected in 1905.

Morton's statue stands in the National Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. He was named to the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement in 1918. Morton was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1975. In 1987 he was made a member of the Agricultural Hall of Fame at Bonner Springs, Kansas. Morton was elected president of the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1891 and was serving in that office at the time of his death on April 27, 1902 at Lake Forest, Illinois.
The thing that I also found fascinating, was that of his children, one of them stated The Morton Salt Co., one of them started The Argon Starch Co. and yet another on of his sons started an insurance company. A rather financially successful family I would offer. All in all a nice Midwestern Fall Foliage trip, even if it wasn't to the East Coast.

"People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home."-Dagobert D. Runes, US writer Posted by Picasa