Nebraska's Hidden Paradise

(As told to Hazel Schmidt by Carleton Pettijohn, Jr.)

The First Congregational Church The First Methodist Church Hidden Paradise Railroad

Nebraska's Hidden Paradise was started as a much-enjoyed resort in 1912 by Carleton Pettijohn, Sr. He built the first thirty cottages, the plunge, and the dance pavilion. The plunge was built in 1914 at the north end of the park. The park had its own ice house in which it stored ice for summer use. A grocery store was operated by Otto Berger for vacationing people. Some of the first and best cabins were built by the carpenters Flanagan and Rossiter. They also built the plunge in which there was a high water wheel which pumped fresh water continually into the swimming area.

The park had its own baseball team that was unbeaten for three years in a row, not only against local teams but professional traveling teams. Some of the players on this team were Frank Munson, Ralph Cox, Dan Cox, and Pete DeSife. Horseback riding was a very popular recreation.

Trail rides went from the park to the Seven Springs area to the south, and north to the Kyner mill. A thirty-day race contest was held each summer on the west side of Pine Creek where the golf course is now [was] located. Elwood Duffy's horses were always among the top money winners, and there was a man from Bassett by the name of Vere Leonard who had a fine string of horses there. The Indians from Pine Ridge competed in the saddle horse races and each fall they camped at the large stockyards just west of Long Pine. Here, they made beef jerky and many items such as moccasins which they sold to tourists. They also put on Indian dances for entertainment.

Tourists came by train to Long Pine and there was hack service to and from the park. Many people walked from town to the park, but Clem Wright drove an early Model T taxi. 

He charged ten cents for a one-way ride to and from town. William Smith, Jr., when a boy, called twice a day with his Model T to deliver ice to the cabins.

Mr. Pettijohn became so involved with his cattle and sheep operations that he hired John Woods to manage it. In 1920 he gave it to his daughter, Stella Cook. She, in turn, sold it to Harry Culbertson who operated it for 20 years. Red Naylor built a concession stand at the east end of the pavilion which was patronized by people of all ages. The park became noted for its fine dance bands that played there. Local people came from distances of on hundred miles to dance to such bands as the bands of Lee Williams and Lawrence Welk, and others. For many years, dances were held every evening.

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