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WATCH NOW: Earley family establishing vacation spot near Columbus
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WATCH NOW: Earley family establishing vacation spot near Columbus

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A new vacation destination will be coming to the Columbus area in spring 2021 – River Land Cabins and Campground.

It’s the brainchild of realty couple Bob and Betty Earley, who own Earley Real Estate and Construction in Columbus. Three weeks before the devastating floods last year, they purchased 44 acres of land that is located east of Tailrace Park along the Platte River.

“Well, I guess we started it because we got an opportunity to buy the land that had been privately owned for probably about 30 years, and wasn't developed at all,” Betty said, noting that the previous owner kept horses on the land.

The couple sold 20 acres of land, but kept 24.

Thanks to the floods, a big chunk of their land and 10 large trees washed away and they had to wait for some roads to get fixed before being able to go to the land.

“We started clearing … in April 2019. (We) had to wait for the roads to get all put back together and the flood, you know, made everything soggy out here,” Betty said.

Bob and Betty constructed the first building – now called Eagle Lodge – with their own family in mind. But upon developing the land, they kept seeing beautiful views and continued with establishing cabins and a camping area, they said.

“Every time we clear a spot, we just find some really prime real estate was under all the brush and all the trees,” Bob noted.

Wintertime offers a great view, Betty said.

“Winter is good because the eagles hunt here where the water (is) because (the) water never freezes,” Betty said. “And there's eagles that hunt here; they sit in the trees here and they fish right … where the water comes out of the canal.”

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A variety of activities, such as fishing, kayaking and canoe trips, can be enjoyed at the site, Bob added. Plans also include a playground and a sand volleyball court, he said.

Eagle Lodge took six months to complete. It sleeps eight people. The Platte River Cabin, which sleeps five people, took three months to finish as it’s smaller. The couple is in the process of completing a second building, Loup River Cabin.

Additionally, 30 campsites are planned along the north side of the land. That land had to be leveled and electrical, plumbing and water established, Bob said. A shower house and dump station are planned for the campsite.

Getting the campsite ready is still in the works, though, so the earliest someone would be able to camp there is in May.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has allowed Bob and Betty to focus on the growing River Land Cabins and Campground.

“It gave us the time to really develop this instead of rushing into something … we got to do it properly,” Betty said.

Since finishing Eagle Lodge, the site has been a getaway for the Earley family.

“It's been a real godsend to us to be able to come out here when everybody's been cooped up in their home,” Betty said. “We've been able to come out here every morning and just enjoy the fresh air and build them. Yeah, it's been an adventure.”

The lodge and cabins are already reserved well into 2021, they said, with talks of a wedding to be held behind Eagle Lodge along the river.

Bob and Betty are both Columbus natives who moved to Lincoln in the 1980s and owned a couple of nightclubs before moving back to the area. Bob has been buying and flipping houses and building homes since about 1990. They received their realty licenses in 1999 and also own rental properties in Columbus.

The Earleys’ vision for River Land Cabins and Campground is of a place for families to spend time together in the great outdoors.

“We are really interested in giving families a place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature and not have to drive hours to find it,” Betty said.

Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at hannah.schrodt@lee.net.

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