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The 'Little House on the Prairie'

Listed under Literary Locations in South Dakota, United States.

  • Photo of The 'Little House on the Prairie'
  • Photo of The 'Little House on the Prairie'
Photo of The 'Little House on the Prairie'
Photo by flickr user mhowry
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This is the house that Pa built, literally. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her “Little House on the Prairie” for her sister, Mary who went blind, painting her a detailed picture for her of what their new house and their families frontier prairie land looked like. Pa began building the house in 1880 and all the family helped to work on it and the land in the warmer months.

Of the nine “Little House” books, four were set on the Ingalls Homestead. The house the family lived in until their new home was ready (referred to as the Surveyor’s House) is nearby at Silver Lake as is the store where Laura brought her books and where the family sometimes stayed in winter.

The house and the land immediately surrounding it have been ‘restored’ to how they would have been in the five years Laura spent here before she was married, so it is identical to way it was described in the books, hopefully Laura‘s artistic licence was quite faithful to the truth. This isn’t the original building though which they don’t tell you too clearly in any of the tourist bumph, but some of the trees would have been planted by the family when they built the house.

One person who came through with me seemed to think the house was too large inside, but the guide was addiment that it was the right size and shape. The Surveyor’s House is partly original and partly a later addition but is probably closer to the correct size - which is tiny! The house Laura lived in after she was married is now a museum. T

his is almost a theme park experience with lots of Ingalls children activities, like wagon rides, an 1880’s school lesson, complete with rope making (?) and a petting zoo type set up with horses, cows and ponies.

All through this part of Dakota are Laura Ingalls Wilder Museums, pretty much every small town and truck stop has a claim to some part of her, but I’m not sure how authentic their collections are, the woman who thought the house was too big said they’re all knock offs. 20812 Homestead Road, De Smet, South Dakota 57231, Phone: 800-776-3594, Open 9 AM - 7 PM, Activities 9 AM - 6 PM

Ingalls Homestead website.

Written by  Sophie Edgerton.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Society

Laura Ingalls Wilder is most famous for her book “Little House on the Prarie”. Come see the town of De Smet, South Dakota where Laura's family resided and places she wrote about in her book. The Surveyor's House and the “House That Pa Built” are both here for visitors to see. There are also 16 other sites in the nearby area that are described in Laura Ingalls Wilder's book. The Historic Home Tour is available for visitors and includes guided visits to the two Ingalls family homes that are located on the sight. These houses are filled with items that belonged to Laura and her family. The school that Laura and Carrie attended is also part of the tour. Admission to the site ranges from $4 - $8 while children under 5 are free.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum

Hidden on a rural highway in South Missouri is an unassuming white house sitting on a hill. This humble abode was the home to none other than Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the renowned Little House series.

This particular little house was built entirely by Almanzo, Laura’s husband, and is open for tours. Volunteers from the Wilder Home Association welcome guests to view a short film about the history of the location and then lead them through the first floor of the cabin-turned-farmhouse.

Afterwards, visitors are encouraged to get back into their vehicles and drive a bit further up the road to see the Rock House, the more modern home built for Laura and Almanzo by daughter Rose. Although the inside does not hold such an extensive history of their life (most artifacts are kept in the farmhouse), it does continue the story of their later years.

Once finished exploring the homes, a museum awaits, holding artifacts and information surrounding Laura’s life and the publication of the Little House books.

March 1 - November 15:

Monday thru Saturday 9:00AM to 5:00PM

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