A visit to Victoria Springs State Recreation Area

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 9:59 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It’s the second oldest park in the Nebraska Game and Parks system, and you’ll find many surprises at Victoria Springs.

During a visit to Victoria Springs State Recreation Area, we caught up with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Central Region Superintendent Tommy Hicks. “It’s a 60-acre part nestled in the base of the Sandhills,” Hicks said. “We call it the ‘Oasis of the Sandhills’. When people come here, we have 21 electrical sites, 6 basic tent sites, we have a 6-acre lake stocked with fish, we have two rental cabins, and we have a natural trail, among many other features.”

Hicks says most of the trees at Victoria Springs are cottonwoods. They really stand out when you come to the park. “We also have red cedar, spruce, and Ponderosa pine throughout the park as well,” Hicks said. “There is a lot of history here, too. The area was settled in 1874 by a group of men that traveled from Loup City. They were told about the cold natural springs gushing from the creek bed here, and the gentlemen, Oscar Smith and Judge Matthews decided to come here and check it out. When they got here, they saw the valley was full of bison and elk, and they staked a claim. This became the first post office site in Custer County. We have two historical cabins here on the property. One was Judge Matthews’ store house, and the other was the post office and his residence.”

Along with the log cabins, you can find an 1876 one-room schoolhouse. It was an active schoolhouse until the 1960′s. “We have the natural springs located here,” Hicks said. “They are the only known mineral springs in the state of Nebraska, and you can still see them today as they gush out of the creek on the east side of the park. At one point in time, there was a bottling company here. They bottled ginger beer, champagne, and water. There was an effort to make the area a resort town, but that never came to be.”

Now you can enjoy the history and the peace and quiet of Victoria Springs. The park is on the Nebraska Passport Program this year, and the Great Park Pursuit Program. Lots to see and do at Victoria Springs State Recreation Area.

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