We were driving across South Dakota, listening to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “The Long Winter” when I looked at a map and realized we would be passing just one hour from De Smet, the setting of the book! A few phone calls were made, and we arranged to spend the next day in De Smet!
downtown De Smet
The Loftus Store is still there, but now it mainly sells touristy stuff.
Ward’s is located where Pa’s store was during that harsh winter when they lived in it. We ate a tasty lunch there.
We did the Historic Homes tour. It’s located a couple blocks from downtown. Nextdoor to the gift shop/ticket desk/museum, they have relocated the Surveyor’s House and the school Laura and Carrie attended. They also built a replica of the first school Laura taught in.
replica of Ma’s cherished china shepherdess
Laura and Almonzo’s wedding photos (taken months later, because that’s when the photographer was able to come)
wedding china and silverware
a pig’s bladder, like the girls loved to play with when they were little!
playing with the pig’s bladder
Pa’s animal book
No photos were allowed inside, but it was so incredible to walk inside this house that Laura thought was so unbelievably huge!
Laura and Carrie’s School
ringing the school bell
their schoolroom looked much like this. The building was a house after it was a school – the area at the front shows the layers of wallpaper, as well as a door that was later put in.
The desks were much like this, although each seated two…
This is what Pa and Laura did with straw from the slough to be able to burn it during the long winter
grinding grain like they had to do during the long winter
Laura’s First Teaching School
Pa built this house, in multiple stages, after Laura and Almonzo got married. It was Pa, Ma, and Mary’s last home.
water pump behind the kitchen
Ma had the back entrance added at some point so she could rent it out and earn money
The site of the homestead is now an incredible living history museum where kids can try out chores that Laura did. It unfortunately was closed the day we were there, but they generously told us we were welcome to roam the grounds anyway. Even without any of the hands-on activities, it was an impressive place. They have built versions of several of their homes and other buildings over time.
the claim shanty
This puts Tiny Homes to shame!
The house Pa built, in three stages, on the homestead. This is apparently the actual location and dimensions.
This room was stage one.
Stage two was adding the two bedrooms.
Remember those five cottonwood trees that Pa planted in honor of his girls? This is them! With the Big Slough in the background!
running through the prairie, sun bonnet streaming behind
Silver Lake was drained in the 1920s, and even used as a town dump while drained. The lake is there again, but smaller than it was in Laura’s childhood. We saw no wolves or wolf tracks. 🙂
We usually don’t buy things for the kids at gift shops or wherever. But every now and then, we make an exception:
He now has his own Jack!
Anabel has a new pioneer outfit