It takes a considerable climb — 85 feet from ground level, to be precise — to ascend the Lincoln Journal Tower at Platte River State Park. But a panoramic payoff awaits the brave ones.
The glory of Nebraska’s prime river, just past its last big bend before emptying into the Missouri River, lies some 200 feet below the top of the tower designed as the signature feature of the 418-acre park west of Louisville. It opened in 1982 when the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission combined the former Camp Harriet Harding and Camp Esther K. Newman with a 104-acre wooded area.
The Lincoln Journal Tower, finished a year later, still bears the name of the longtime Lincoln evening newspaper that merged in 1995 with the morning Lincoln Star. That paper was owned for nearly a century by longtime Journal Publisher J.C. Seacrest and his descendants. The family’s J.C. Seacrest Trust provided most of the tower’s funding.
A shorter but more amenable view for less adventuresome park visitors can be gained atop the Daugherty Tower, located at the park’s opposite end. It’s connected to Mallet Lodge, a day-use facility used for business meetings, wedding receptions and other events.
An extensive palette of outdoor activities awaits visitors to the park, located off Nebraska Highway 66 about eight miles east of Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. The Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Education Complex features safe, family-friendly shooting experiences involving archery, small-bore rifles, trapshooting and pellet guns.
Those interested in longer stays can rent one of 21 modern cabins or 31 more rustic “camper cabins.” Meals are served at the Walter Scott Jr. Lodge Restaurant, with the Owen Landing Snack Bar also available for tourists.
On the calendar
May 22: Open house, Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Education Complex.
Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend: “Steak nights,” Saturday nights.
June 21: Father’s Day buffet, Walter Scott Jr. Lodge.
Oct. 10: Family rendezvous, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sykes Complex.
Nov. 8: Veterans Appreciation Day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sykes Complex.
Need to know
Address: 14421 346th St., Louisville, NE 68037-3001
Admission: Nebraska park entry permit required; cabin reservations available through website.
Hours: Park: Open year-round. Sykes Complex: noon-6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 4-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m-5 p.m. weekends, May 23-Aug. 9; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends, Aug. 15-Oct. 10.