The chance to visit Minnesota when it's not usually snowing was too good to pass the opportunity of a road trip to see some of the other locations of the book. I planned a weekend road trip to visit the location of the House on Plum Creek, Walnut Grove MN, and also De Smet, SD which is the location of the last 4 books in the little house series. For my birthday I received a copy of 'The Annotated Prairie Girl' which provides a lot of the historical background and context to the books and I read it avidly prior to my visit.
I drove on Thursday afternoon from IBM Rochester to De Smet. I had booked a couple of nights at the Prairie Manor Bed and Breakfast. The Prairie House was formerly home of Banker Ruth (who appears in the Long Winter as the financial backer for the 'wheat trip').
Friday morning I presented myself at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum for the tour. The 3 of us, 4 including the guide then spent the entire morning visiting buildings around De Smet.
|Bursting with excitement in De Smet!|
We started off at the Surveyors house, below, which is very memorable from 'The Shores of Silver Lake' from Laura's description of running ahead to explore this 'huge' dwelling, which of course is tiny! Once I saw the claim shanty and dugout later in my trip it was clear why Laura though the Surveyors house was so luxurious. The family lived here for 5 months through their first winter in On the Shores of Silver Lake - which is probably my favourite book of the series.
|The Surveyors House|
Rather gratifyingly the house was just as she described and really unchanged, especially the pantry which is such a vivid passage in the book. I assume that as the Ingalls family were poor, that they often went hungry, hence Laura's descriptions of food and food-related topics throughout the books. It's not in its original location on Silver Lake, but has been moved into town along with some other buildings.
The next building is a reproduction of the Brewer School where Laura taught her first semester of school.
|Reproduction of the Brewster School|
De Smet's first school is also located at the tour center. This was described in the books many times as being enormous and for some events the entire town gathered for the Spelling Bee, Singing School and other social events.
|De Smet First School|
|Ma and Pa's last house in De Smet|
It was also 2 doors down from the Bed and Breakfast where I stayed. If you are visiting De Smet I would highly recommend the Prairie House. (http://prairiehousemanor.com/ )