On the banks of Plum Creek

A long time ago, there was a mom and two little girls. One night the mother called her girls into her bed and said she was going to read a book to them. The little girls thought this sounded like a nice way to end the day, especially because they both liked stories. The mother picked out the book "Little House in the Big Woods" and began to read. Every night, she would read one chapter, although sometimes, if the little girls begged enough, the mother would read a second chapter. The oldest girl sometimes tried to read ahead, but her mother wouldn't let her. Reading the Little House series of books became a nighttime ritual and no reading ahead was allowed. 

The mother and the two daughters together read all the books in the Little House series, which fast became the girls' favorite books. After they finished all the books, the oldest girl read them again on her own, time and time again. She loved the pioneer setting, and liked to imagine herself as a fiesty tomboy in a dress like Laura Ingalls, even though she wasn't at all like Laura. She loved to read about how Ma made maple candy from syrup and snow, and she liked the pictures of Pa and his fiddle. She tried to read Braille like Mary learned to do, and imagined owning a set of name cards like Laura got when she was a teenager.

Fast forward to Friday, when this little girl is now a grown woman. She has to go to a dental convention mixer in Sioux Falls. Between her house and Sioux Falls is a place called Walnut Grove, where Laura Ingalls lived when she was a young school girl. The events of her life from that time became the book On the Banks of Plum Creek

I had to go. Jim was nice enough to agree to make a detour to see whatever I wanted to look at. We left early enough in the morning to make a slow travel day get us to Sioux Falls in time to shower and dress for the mixer.

The historical marker on the side of the road
Plum Creek is literally a creek, small enough for little feet to wade across. Big feet didn't because I was afraid of leeches--there is an episode in the book where Laura and Mary discover leeches in Plum Creek, and later, Laura leads a rival girl into the leech infested water as an act of revenge.

Plum Creek almost directly across from the dugout house site the Ingalls lived in for a while

The dugout house is unrecognizable as a house now because it caved in many years ago. The place was very small, only the size of a covered wagon--can you imagine a family of 5 living in a 6x10 foot space?

Jim walking down the path that used to be the dugout roof.

After walking around Plum Creek, we made our way to Walnut Grove, where they have a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum. I had to stop and peruse the museum. There was much about Laura's life and her letters. There were lots of artifacts from the time period and a room dedicated to the TV series "Little House on the Prairie." It is apparent from the number of items they have focusing on the actress who played Nellie Oleson, that they like her.

Outside there is a small area with some buildings dedicated to teaching about life during the 1870s.

A parlor organ that the public is invited to play. Yes, I took them up on that offer. I had to pump the air with my feet. I want a parlor organ.

A replica school house. This place was the size of most sheds these days.

The sod house was even smaller.
Jim and I spent about 3 hours exploring the Plum Creek site and the museum in Walnut Grove.

I am going to have to get the books out and read them again.


Jenni said…
WOW!! Plum Creek is so little and all. I, too, loved those books and read them to my girls. I was the romantic and loved the stories of Almanzo. I can't believe we have never gone out there. Looks like a great place to visit. I can't imagine living in a sod house, or dugout. Just think of all that dirt and the bugs!!
Jen said…
I really wish my girls would allow me to read these books to them. Two minutes into reading, and Mimi is already asking, "Can we be done now?" Maybe some day soon.

That is very cool! I love old school houses. It's intriguing to see another time still on display.
Thanks for sharing these pictures. I absolutely loved The Little House books growing up. I read them over and over and over again. I still have the set of books my grandmother gave me when I was in 2nd grade. They're beaten up and taped up but well loved. I started reading the books to my daughter (my son was not into it)when she was 5 and we kept reading until we were through with all of them (except Farmer Boy, she didn't want me to read that "boy book". She fell in love with Laura and dressed as her on Book Character Day in kindergarten. Anyway, I'm rambling, thanks for sharing again. I would love to visit all the Little House historic sites but, as I live in the south, I don't think that's going to happen.