Day 3: Walnut Grove, MN

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Flag of United States  , Minnesota
Friday, July 23, 2010

Since we reached the prairies, we have been seeing wind turbines all along the horizon. We finally took a picture of them, which I'm including with this entry. Apparently Iowa and Minnesota are about tied for the third largest wind producing state in the country, behind California and Texas.  Fun fact :)

We were musing about the wind turbines when we came into Walnut Grove.  We knew we were there because of the a huge welcome sign and large water tower which proudly proclaims the town's connection to Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Initially, though, we drove right on through the town, about 2 miles out to the site of the dugout where Laura lived during the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek."  The dugout site is marked with a sign, although all that remains is a rather large hill.  The land is actually now privately owned but the family maintains the area so that tourists and other LIW fans like us can come visit it.  The area was lovely, with prairie flowers everywhere and the soft babbling of the creek.  There are multiple markers along the path that quote "On the Banks of Plum Creek" and offer more historical information; such as, the stone rock Laura describes as being large enough for her and Mary to climb up and run around on, has likely been almost completely buried by the mud and silt from the stream as it has slowly changed it's course year to year.

When we finished taking pictures with me in my bonnet, we went to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in town.  This museum was more believable as an actual museum than the one in Pepin.  This one contained real artifacts from the Ingalls family and various pictures and charts tracking their and the lives of the friends and neighbors who lived in Walnut Grove with them, many of whom are mentioned in the Little House books.  There was also a section of the museum dedicated to the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series, but since neither Mom or I has ever really watched the show, that was slightly less interesting to us.

The museum had an example of a small house from Walnut Grove from Laura's time, a pine house like the one the Ingalls lived in briefly, and a dugout like the one near the stream.  In all of these places, especially the dugout, it's hard to imagine living with two adults and three or more young children in such close quarters; I guess that's why they spent so much time outside.  We also saw another replica school house and church. 

At this point, we needed to get ready for the pageant.  We decided to get some food in town at the local bar to take with us to the pageant site, a mile outside of town.  The Laura Ingalls Pageants (here and in DeSmet) use the word "pageant" to mean a play about an historical event, not the beauty contest definition of the word used more commonly now.   We got to the pageant grounds around 6:30pm so we got good seats on the general admission lawn. We ate, read, played sudoku, and listened to the "Pageant Singers" perform a variety of pioneers hymns and songs until 9pm when the pageant actually began.  There were lots of people involved in this production: the entire Ingalls family and about 5 other pioneer families each with half a dozen children.  The sets were great and the story, although a little "campy," was cute.  About half way through the first act we began to feel little rain drops but the actors kept going and so did we.  Mom stayed under her poncho and I positioned my umbrella over me and we stayed until the end, amidst little drizzles. 

Nevertheless, at the last line, as soon as the cast took their bow, we were out of our seats and heading for the car, anxiously looking at the rolling clouds above.  We made it about two turns out of the theater before the rain started.  That's really when the fun began... (see next entry).

 More pictures of Day 3 at
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