Arbor Day originated and was first observed in Nebraska in 1872. The plan was conceived by J. Sterling Morton, then a member of the State Board of Agriculture. Morton loved trees for their own sake, for their beauty and for the creation of an enjoyable environment. He planted the grounds of his home, "Arbor Lodge," with rare and exotic trees from all over the world. "Arbor Lodge" is now a Nebraska State Park.
Morton's trees grew and flourished. He encouraged his neighbors to plant. He then conceived the idea of planting trees over all the bleak plains of Nebraska. He knew how important trees were in developing a pleasing home environment and in controlling the rigors of a harsh climate. Morton introduced his plan and a resolution to the effect that Wednesday, the 10th day of April, be set apart for tree planting in the State of Nebraska and named Arbor Day. Wide publicity was given to the plan and more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day. Before 1872, tree planting had been haphazard. The adoption of the Arbor Day plan meant organization of tree planting work.
As early as April 4, 1895, Nebraska had become so active in tree raising that the legislature passed a resolution that the State be popularly known as the Tree Planters' State. The Arbor Day idea quickly spread to neighboring states. Within the next twenty years practically all the states celebrated Arbor Day by planting trees with appropriate ceremonies. By the turn of the century it was well established and became traditional in most states.