Morton Mansion Carriage House and Arbor Day Farm

Last week I wrote about the Morton Mansion/Arbor Lodge in Nebraska City, Nebraska. For the history of the prestigious family and their mansion, check out that post. As promised, this week I’m posting photos and a little info about the grounds and other buildings, too. A short walk from the main house is the stables, or carriage house:

True to its name, the two-story carriage house contained – whaddaya think – carriages! No horseless ones, of course, but some nice ones. Like this Chippendale, used by one of J. Sterling Morton’s sons in Chicago. I was interested to see the white rubber tires on these wagon wheels.

There was a brougham, one of my favorite words (should be two syllables, but isn’t quite – or is it?):

For the record, this carriage design was named after Lord Brougham who designed it in the 1700s. The driver sat outside and passengers inside, implying a chauffeur. Then there’s this surrey (with the fringe on top!):

There were probably a dozen or so carriages, all in pretty good condition. Downstairs there were horse stables, empty of course.

I like the brickwork floor. Also, outer rooms downstairs had a beautiful metal-stamped ceiling:

There was a tackroom, with a painful-looking wooden “Indian saddle”:

I saw this above the tackroom window:

Though I could tell it was for a horse’s foot, I had never seen anything like it before. I looked it up, and it turns out to be a leather boot for horses so that they don’t ruin a nice lawn. In fact, today there are many different designs of horse boots for different purposes, such as grabbing slippery terrain and so forth. Ya learn something new every day!

The weirdest thing my friend Cheryl and I saw that day was this:

As you can see, it’s a meat tenderizer tool, and it was enormous! We both said aloud, “What kind of meat are they tenderizing?!?” It weighed a ton! Glad to have my USDA-graded meat and Adolf’s!

Anyway, the 72-acres of Morton’s property have become the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, donated to Nebraska in 1923. Before that, they planted and harvested an apple orchard on the property, among many other agricultural things. Of course, cider was a big deal for them. They even have their first cider press on display:

After perusing the carriage house, we crossed the road to the Arbor Day Farm, which is a sort of arborish amusement park.

We had lunch at the Apple House Market, where I also bought some of the local apple wine and an ear of popcorn-on-the-cob. They don’t grow that here, but I’m from Indiana and couldn’t resist!
I don’t have any terribly good pictures of the rest of the Arbor Day Farm (costs extra to get in, and there were loads of schoolchildren ahead of us). However, I’ll tell you there’s a big log-cabin-type welcome center which is the entrance to the Tree Adventures section. If you buy a ticket, you can go through that building, which also has a souvenir shop, and see what’s left of the Morton’s apple orchard, climb a wooden treehouse observation tower, follow a trail through the woods with educational and interactive exhibits, and more that I can’t even remember. It smacked of school field trip, though, and seemed pretty new and amazing. Best thing: after availing yourself of all the activities, you could exit through the Leid Greenhouse and pick up a free tree seedling to plant when you got home.

I would recommend this family-friendly destination, because the kids would enjoy Tree Adventures, there’s fun and relaxing shopping and surroundings, the cafe serves pretty good snackbar fare, and history buffs can get their history on inside the mansion. To make it easy to visit, also nearby and part of the complex, is the Lied Lodge and Conference Center (hotel). Not bad for a daytrip, huh?

Photo for No Apparent Reason: