One of the best parts about becoming an adult is the ability to take yourself to all the places you dreamed of going as a child. The "Little House" books had an enormous impact on my growing up years as well as my playtime...
|My cousins and I played Laura, Mary, and Carrie growing up.|
The cabin on the Kansas site is a reproduction, but it was still thrilling to step on the plot of land deeded to Charles Ingalls from 1869-1871. Baby Carrie was born in Kansas, then the family had to leave the site because they'd unwittingly settled in Indian territory.
There was one authentic part of the site left ~ and that was the well that had been hand-dug by Pa.
Rocky Ridge farm was a quaint old white farmhouse in the Ozarks. Almanzo (pronounced al-MAN-zo, the locals who knew him tell you) built the house to scale for Laura, who was only about 4'11" tall! No wonder Pa dubbed her half-pint. They used all local materials so it is full of rich timbers and limestone. Their daughter Rose built them a modern Sears and Roebuck kit stone house, and that's where Laura actually began writing her series. It didn't take the couple long, however, to move back over the hill into their original dream house.
|Rocky Ridge farm|
|The stone house. It is also open for tour, but fewer people go here.|
|Downtown Walnut Grove today|
|Enjoying wading in Plum Creek!|
In South Dakota, DeSmet is still very much the same as it was when Laura lived there during "By the Shores of Silver Lake," "Little Town on the Prairie," "The Long Winter," "These Happy Golden Years," and "The First Four Years." We stayed in the old bank building ~ now a B&B ~ and I loved waking up to the sound of the train whistle. Pa first went to DeSmet to work for the RR. The family joined him, and they stayed the winter in the RR Surveyor's House.
Laura's powers of recall were fabulous - every detail in the house matched the book. Later on Pa filed a claim and built a house. The house is gone, but the location is marked and the cottonwood trees planted by the family still surround the site. This is a working recreated homestead for visitors, but we focused mainly on the "actual" location.
The family spent the hard winters in town, in a building Pa had built. It's no longer there, but a plaque marks where it had been. The old Loftus store where Laura and Carrie bought Pa Christmas suspenders is still in operation though!
We went in and bought a few souvenirs, of course.
The Ingalls family right before Laura and Almanzo left for Missouri.
|Ma, Carrie, Laura, Pa, Grace, and Mary|
|Ingalls family row ~ DeSmet, SD|
|Laura and Almanzo, Mansfield, MO|