Finding Laura Ingalls Wilder in DeSmet, South Dakota – #igtravelthursday

Last Updated on November 1, 2015 by Jody Halsted

Five of the eight books Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote for the Little House series were written about her life in and around DeSmet, South Dakota.  Since reading the books together – and my eldest daughter re-reading them on her own – my girls have wanted to see where Laura lived.  So, we began our homeschool year with a little field trip.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historical Society of DeSmet owns three historic buildings:  The Surveyor’s House (By the Shores of Silver Lake), the fist school house in DeSmet (The Long Winter & Little Town on the Prairie) and the house Pa built in town after they moved in from the Homestead.  While the girls enjoyed these tours, they were mostly hands-off and photos were not allowed inside the buildings.

Across the street from the Surveyor’s House, however, is the Discovery Center, where kids can dress like Laura and get hands on.

Working with primers and slates like Laura Ingalls Wilder
One room schooling

The only original building on Main Street is Loftus’ Store.  With a large selection of Laura books and trinkets, you can also buy yourself a dress and bonnet.

At Loftus Store, DeSmet, South Dakota
Little Girls on the Prairie

While we had fun in town, what the girls enjoyed most was the Ingalls Homestead– the very claim filed by Pa in ‘By the Shores of Silver Lake’.

Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
A bit of a history lesson
Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
Overlooking the house Pa built on the claim
Driving the Pony Cart at Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
Driving the Pony Cart
Driving the Covered Wagon at Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
Driving the Covered Wagon
Our lodging at Ingalls Homestead- a Covered Wagon!
Our lodging at Ingalls Homestead- a Covered Wagon!
Inside the Covered Wagon at Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
Room for 5 + a bathroom. Hint: Its hanging on the door!
Morning visitor at Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
Morning visitor to our covered wagon
Helping with the horses at Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
Helping with the horses
Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota
Ingalls Homestead visitor’s center

We had an incredible time at the Ingalls Homestead.  The girls learned about toys and activities of Laura’s time, made corncob dolls, did wash, and explored the place Laura called home.  We highly recommend it for anyone- even if you haven’t read the books.

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  1. Jody, I thought your trip was fascinating.  I admire you for staying in the wagon with no bathroom. 

    Thanks for linking up with us.

  2. Wow! This is really cool. The dress and bonnet really make the pictures. They should be required outfits for visits there.
    Question: Where do the other books take place?

    1. travelturtlefamily The other books take place in: Pepin Wisconsin; south of Independence, Kansas; Walnut Grove, MN.  You’ll also find a bit in Burr Oak, Iowa (though Laura didn’t write about it) and Mansfield, MO, where Laura and Almanzo moved after leaving South Dakota.

  3. I loved the Little House series when I was a kid, but didn’t know there was this kind of place to visit. I love the photos, they look so old fashioned!

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