Nebraska City, one of
the state’s most historic communities, was considered an “ideal site for a
future city” by Lewis and Clark. A ferryboat crossing remained in operation after the
early Ft. Kearny moved westward in 1848, establishing the site as a major
river crossing during the Gold Rush. In 1854, with the opening of the
settlement of the Nebraska Territory, the old fort formed the nucleus for a
Nebraska City was identified with environmental stewardship long before it
became popular elsewhere. J. Sterling Morton, one of the state’s leading
political figures, established tree-planting as part of the regional ethos.
His home, Arbor Lodge, originally built in 1855, became the center of a
personal arboretum and led to his founding of Arbor Day.