Arbor Day and Lodge

Arbor day treesTreeArbor Day is a holiday that celebrates the planting and caring of trees.  It originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska by Mr. J. Sterling Morton.  The first Arbor Day was April 10, 1872.  It was an amazing success.  In fact, nearly a million trees were planted that day.  It wasn’t until 1884 that the second Arbor Day was celebrated.  In 1885, the young state of Nebraska decided to make this an annual event in April to coincide with J. Sterling’s birthday, April 22.

J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and politician in Nebraska.  He worked tirelessly to improve agricultural techniques in his adopted state (he moved to Nebraska from Michigan) and throughout the United States.  He even served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture.  But it was his role as a member of Nebraska’s state board of agriculture that he proposed a special day be set aside to increase the awareness of the importance of trees.

Original Morton Home
Original Morton Home

I had the honor of visiting the Morton Mansion a few weeks ago.  After several additions, the house is now a stately, 52-room, neo-colonial building that included a bowling alley in the basement.  J. Sterling Morton built the original structure in 1855, but the mansion wasn’t completed until 1902 by Morton’s oldest son, Joy.

The 52-room Morton Mansion
The 52-room Morton Mansion




The Red Parlor
The Red Parlor


Joy added the carriage house and an Italian-terraced garden in 1903, as well as updated the interior.

For 20 years, Joy and his family used Morton Mansion, or what they ultimately called The Arbor Lodge as a summer retreat.  He donated the house and the grounds to the State of Nebraska in 1923.  The entirety was to be preserved as a monument to his father.

Do you remember the Morton Salt slogan?  Leave a comment or just the slogan and your name will be put in a drawing to win my November release, FINALLY A BRIDE.

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32 thoughts on “Arbor Day and Lodge”

  1. Living not far from the Lodge, I have visited the area more than once. It is a beautiful place and well worth the time.

    I believe the slogan was ‘When it rains, it pours’

  2. How interesting! I’m going to plan a stop there next time we drive to Nebraska to visit my in-laws. Thanks for sharing! I love the picture of the red tree 🙂

  3. That mansion is beautiful. I would loved to have seen it in it’s prime. I don’t remember the motto, but I do remember the girl with the umbrella on the side of it.
    But…a boy named Joy?
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

  4. You know what one thing I took away from Arbor Lodge and J. Sterling Morton more than any other? (I’m not necessarily proud of this, you understand….)
    J. Sterling Morton’s son Joy Morton…..invented…..or maybe just bought the patent and made famous …….. MORTON SALT. That’s the process that makes salt pour.
    When it rains it pours.
    All those little salt dishes you see in old place settings of china are because salt wouldn’t pour. It was solid. So you’d get little chunks of it and maybe a tiny spoon and you’d chop at it until you broke off crystals and sprinkle those on your food.
    But someone figured out how to make it stay in crystalized form so it would pour….and thus was invented the salt shaker.
    That’s Joy Morton.

    Yeah, I know. This is about trees.

  5. Morton salt, used in homes for years and years…”when it rains, it pours”.
    Arbor Lodge certainly looks like a place I would love to visit. Thank you for the interesting post and a chance at your wonderful giveaway. Oh by the way, I am rather partial to the name Joy as it is my mother’s first name and my granddaughter’s middle name. I have heard it used as a male’s name one other time.

  6. How interesting, Renee! I never knew how Arbor Day started. And I sure didn’t know the Morton’s Salt guy was behind it. I learn so much from my Filly sisters! That lodge looks like an amazing place to visit.

    Big congrats on your upcoming release!! FINALLY A BRIDE sounds like a great story. Wishing you much success.

  7. Connie, have you ever stayed in the Lied Lodge? Sooooo worth the trip. Who knew there was gorgeous retreat like that in Nebraksa? Yes, you got the slogan right!

  8. Hi Heidi! The colors in this area of the country are beautiful. I used to think of Vermont or the North Carolina mountains as perfect Fall leaves. Thanks to the Arbor Lodge, I’m adding Nebraska to the list!

  9. My brother lives in New York State and he said once something that seems appropriate to this blog. He said in the west, in Nebraska and all over out here, you can tell where towns and houses are by looking for trees.
    And in the east you can tell where towns and houses are by looking for clearings.

    The west was just simply BARREN.
    And the east was just covered with trees. Very different lands. It’s no wonder they thought this was the Great American Desert.

  10. Mary, YES, when it rains it pours…all because of good ole Joy. One of the other things I noticed about the J. Sterling’s kids…they were all SO GOOD LOOKING!!!! The stuff of romance novels good-looking.

  11. Sherri, I love that umbrella (and the little girl beneath). As a kid I used to think she was the same girl as the Coppertone kid. As a pale brunette child growing up in Florida, I thought all blonde kids looked the same anyway. I wasn’t a very bright child. 😉

  12. Mary, what a fascinating insight. You’re right. Tree clusters in Nebraska always come with houses. Even today, whenever a house is built in our new-ish neighborhood the association plants trees for them!

  13. I love the wonderful things I learn here! Thank you for sharing this history of Arbor Day and the Morton family. The Morton Mansion is beautiful and looks like a fascinating place to visit.

    Congratulations on your upcoming release! I would love to win a copy of FINALLY A BRIDE!! Thank you for the opportunity.

  14. Howdy Renee, I actually DO remember the slogan. I remember asking my mom just what it meant.

    But having been to mega-humid Hawaii many times, the restaurants put rice grains in the salt shakers along with the salt so it doesn’t clump up. Oh yes, as first I complained to a waiter that somebody had tampered with the salt…sheesh.

    Also remember Arbor Day….went to college in Nebraska but mostly from research for my first book. Remember THAT one?

    Your pictures are beautiful! xox

  15. I think the slogan was “When it rains it pours.”

    How interesting! If I am ever in Nebraska, I’ll have to go there.

  16. Hmmm, I know the product… do not remember a slogan for it… did not realize Arbor Day started so long ago.

  17. Renee, this is just a wonderful post. Love the pictures. I had no idea about all this. Thanks for this!

  18. Hi Renee,
    “When it rains, it pours”. I love Arbor Day. I just love trees, I guess. It always pains me when the highway department cuts down trees to make way for another lane of a road. So unfair, especially when they are mature trees. This happened a few years ago in Mono County, (California). There was so much protest that they stayed the cutting. I haven’t been on that part of Hwy 395 for awhile, so don’t know if they cut them or not.

  19. When it rains it pours! We have some up in our cupboards as we speak or I should say type.
    jennydtipton at gmail dot com

  20. Until you mentioned it at the end of the post, I didn’t connect the Morton name with Morton Salt. That would explain where they got their money and were able to do so much with it.
    We will have to look for the Lodge next time we are out that way. Thank you for an interesting post.

    I know you have already drawn for the book, but I do remember the slogan “When it rains it pours.” Funny how things like that stay with you.

  21. “When it Rains it Pours” I always loved that and is still what I use. But, didn’t know the story. I love the picture of the originaal Morton home. Those houses are so neat. As to the name JOY, I’ve told my kids and friends, I imagined belonged to men first. Girls being named after their dad’s or maybe grandfather. I knew a man in KS. with the name Shirley. And, have a niece and friends with the name now. Also a relative back then named Beverly. Also a great well-known singer who traveled with Billy Graham around the world with the Gospel was named Beverly Shea. Wish I could win this book. Maxie

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