Tucked away in Brown County in the Sandhills is a little place that, unless you’re from the area, you’ve probably never heard of.
Long Pine – with a population under 300 – is one of Nebraska’s best kept secrets…though it was once one of the hippest places to be.
Beginning way back in the 1880s, Long Pine was a railroad hub for the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company. Located on Long Pine Creek, the little town grew quickly as people realized how uniquely beautiful this area is. In 1912, the legendary resort Nebraska’s Hidden Paradise opened for business.
The resort was truly a sight to see, with a heated indoor bath house, more than 30 cabins, a carousel, and a dance pavilion where famous acts like Tommy Dorsey and Lawrence Welk played. The resort was a haven for Long Pine residents, tourists, and residents who lived in Hidden Paradise seasonally.
Today, the glory days of Hidden Paradise are a fond memory. While there are a few seasonal rental properties there, most of the cabins are privately owned - and you’ll likely have a wait of several generations before you find one of these coveted properties for sale. The couple who now own Hidden Paradise are working hard to restore the property and have already made two cabins available for vacationers.
The railroad abandoned Long Pine in 1992, but left behind Nebraska’s tallest bridge. The bridge, which passes right over the creek, has since been transformed into a part of the Cowboy Trail. You can stand on it and watch the creek lazily babble below. Stand there long enough in the summer and you’ll definitely see some tubers float by in the clear, shallow water.
Long Pine is a huge draw for tubers, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Long Pine State Recreation Area is nearby and offers primitive camping facilities and some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Sandhills. The town itself houses the Heritage House Museum (open Memorial Day to Labor Day), which used to be known as the Miller Hotel. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This little town bills itself as the “Beauty Spot of Nebraska,” and that name is entirely accurate. It’s almost as if the land around the town and the creek opens up to create this peaceful little haven where everyone seems friendly and happy. The town has often been referred to as an oasis, which is just as accurate.
The cool, clear, bubbling creek is fed by several mineral springs which provide the town with some of the freshest, best tasting water in the state. Is that why Long Pine and Hidden Paradise residents are so happy? Is there literally something in the water? It certainly doesn’t hurt.
If you want to experience this tranquil little slice of heaven, get in touch with
. The nearby
Pine Valley Resort
also have comfortable cabins to offer. The Paradise House, a beautiful fully-furnished rental house right in the middle of town, is another great choice. Check out
Long Pine Lodging
for more lodging options. Or pack up your tent and head to the State Recreation Area for a bit of down-and-dirty camping.
Here’s what the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has to say about the lovely Long Pine State Recreation Area.
If you have fond memories of Long Pine – or memories of Hidden Paradise in its heyday – please be sure to share with us in the comments!