|Downtown De Smet|
De Smet currently has a population of about 11,000 and has some light industry in addition to tourism. However tourism in South Dakota is clearly a highly seasonal business as almost nothing was open at the end of April and hardly any other tourists in evidence. A large part of the current economy is still farming.
|Billboard outside De Smet|
I went back out to the Homestead location, where as well as the marker there is a commercial 'Laura's Living Prarie' place. In April it was all shut up but I was able to go and wander around the buildings, many of which were unlocked.
There is an original claim shanty (not the Ingalls) that was relocated from elsewhere. It's just tiny, and its hard to imagine the Ingalls and their 4 daughters fitting into the space. In the books there are lots of descriptions of Ma fitting beds for them all into small spaces.
There is also a dugout similar to one which features in an earlier book in the series "On the Banks of Plum Creek".
There is also a reproduction of the Ingalls homestead which morphed over the years from the original claim shanty into a 'real house'.
|Homestead reproduction: Interior|
|View from the doorway|
|Laura and Almanzo Homestead site|
Before I left I called in at the De Smet cemetary where Ma, Pa, Mary, Carrie, and Grace are all buried. Laura and Almanzo are buried in their final home area in Missouri. I also spotted the grave of Robert and Ella Boast who appear several times in the books.
Finally I left De Smet and headed back East for Walnut Grove and my next stop.