Hiking to McDowell's Mausoleum

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 12:52 PM CDT
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We recently paid a visit to an off-the-beaten-path attraction at Rose Creek State Wildlife Management Area.

"It was built by Nelson McDowell back around 1915," Brad Seitz said. Seitz oversees the management area, and is with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. "McDowell worked on it for about 10 years. He built it supposedly to use it. Another story is that he built it for a hobby. And yet another story is that he had respiratory problems, and his doctor told him to get outside, and McDowell decided to go out and build a mausoleum."

The structure is carved into a hillside, and is made out of soft sandstone. It's located along Rose Creek. "It's a very popular fishing creek, it has good catfish in it," Seitz said. Getting to the mausoleum is getting harder, as there has been some erosion on the trail to it, and Seitz says hiking to the site is considered at your own risk. "It's a primitive area, and you have to be somewhat of a good hiker to get back here in some places," Seitz said.

"The mausoleum has two rooms," Seitz said. "The first room features a special dome in the ceiling, and the second room features two ledges where supposedly there would have been two bodies laid. The other thing that's significant is that everyone seems to have carved their name on the walls. We have names from many years ago. However, we'd like to have people leave it alone if they could, because this site is so unique."

The words "Lookout Mountain" is carved into one of the sandstone cliffs, and you can see the word "mausoleum" above the door to the structure. It's a pretty place to visit, but again, you'll need to use plenty of caution getting there.

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