Nebraska November 08, 2015
What’s Left of This Abandoned Ski Resort in Nebraska is Totally Captivating
In northeast Nebraska, the ghost of a grand dream sits silent and empty. Devils Nest, an area so named for the outlaws who hid there in the 1800s, sits at the banks of the Lewis and Clark River. In the 1960s, a group of developers decided that this unique location would be the perfect place for an upscale ski resort and recreation area.
(Special thanks to
GhostsofNorthAmerica.com for allowing us to use their photographs of Devils Nest!)
Devils Nest Co. was legally formed in 1962 with the sole purpose of developing the area into the recreation wonderland the developers envisioned.
The $100 million planned complex was to include a 25-floor luxury hotel, a golf course, tennis courts, a ski and hunting lodge, an equestrian center, a dozen ski slopes, yacht club, dining and dance hall, campgrounds, and more.
Beautiful resort homes were also planned as part of the development. Lots were platted and sold, but like much of the development, the plans did not meet with reality in the end.
The Devils Nest development broke ground in 1970. At the time, eight houses, the dining and dance hall, yacht club, and equestrian center were built.
Artificial snow machines were installed, pulling treated water from the Missouri River to drop, frozen, onto the slopes. The ski lift seen in these pictures was built for skiers to take advantage of the slopes.
In 1972, the resort opened to much fanfare. The opening festivities drew big crowds, though visitorship quickly dwindled after that.
Sadly, in 1974 the resort closed for good and was foreclosed on for non-payment of taxes. In 1977, the property was put up for sale.
Some of the land was purchased in 1981, with the buyer saying that he planned to reopen Devils Nest. Unfortunately, the economic climate never seemed right for such a large undertaking, and the land has sat unused, the buildings and machinery decaying, for decades.
Today, the old ski lift is a lonely reminder of the all too brief good times enjoyed here. The buildings have been filled with graffiti and garbage from people who have ventured onto the property over the years.
A new group of investors stepped up to buy the property in 2008. Instead of resurrecting the dream of the opulent ski resort, however, they plan to develop the land into homes.
One-acre lots have been platted and listed for sale, and the owners are working with engineers to develop a marina for the area.
It should be mentioned that, while the ski resort land sits abandoned, there are occupied homes nearby. The area is far from barren, and it remains a naturally lovely part of Nebraska.
Part of the problem with the ski resort may have been an overestimation of just how much interest there would be in a ski resort in the region. Then there was the financial overreach of the investors who seemed to want to go too big, too soon.
The new group of investors, on the other hand, is taking the housing development more slowly and trying to build a community that will benefit northeast Nebraska.
Only time will tell what happens to the Devils Nest development. Lots are selling, homes are being built, and the future looks promising. But no matter what becomes of it, Devils Nest will always be remembered by some as the glorious resort that it almost was.
Although the abandoned Devils Nest ski resort is an undeniably fascinating place, it is private property and no trespassing is allowed. Please do not enter the property without the owners’ permission.
Did you ever visit Devils Nest when it was in operation? What do you remember about the experience? Tell us your stories in the comments!