Last week I wrote about our trip to De Smet and the tour of the historical houses and buildings in town. The 2nd part of the day we went out to the homestead land where Ma and Pa Ingalls staked their claim shanty. This land is currently owned privately and not apart of the Laura Ingalls Society. However, hands down this was the kids favorite part of the day. They call it Laura’s Living Prairie and that is exactly what it was. The kids get to run around and experience the land, buildings, and activities of the day.
They have a recreation of different types of houses that the Ingalls lived in: Dugout, Shanty, and a recreation of the Ingalls barn and House that would have been on this property. Out back of “ma’s house” the kids got to try their hand at washing clothes. There was real lye soap, a bucket of water and the ringer. Endless fun people… that is unless you had to wash your clothes this way every day.
There was tons a cute animals around: kittens, a little milk calf, and horses. I even thought the milk cow was sort of cute. That encouraged my husband to no end. Norah could barely contain herself, she wanted to ride a horse so bad. When we got to the barn area she was the first in line. She hopped up there and was all smiles! Lillian also got to ride the horse and the girls got to ride in a little mini buggy. The boy who helped us was great and made the girls feel comfortable. We didn’t have to wait in line for anything and it was just such a beautiful day.
Up next was a visit to the store. You could shell corn and make a corn cob doll, make a rope jump rope, and twist hay. I’m pretty sure a rope-master tool might end up out at the Maloney place sometime in our future. That machine was so cool. The lady helping in that building was great. She talked about what we were doing and stories about Laura.
Then probably the highlight of the afternoon was the covered wagon ride to the school house. The driver of the mules let the kids have a chance to drive the team of mules. The girls just kept saying, “We are actually in a covered wagon!”
After out wagon ride to school. Everyone went inside for their lesson from a teacher. She taught about what school would have been like for Laura and her sisters. The girls even had to recite some lessons. Leeland didn’t make it too long and ended up back in the wagon.
We got our wagon ride back and then spent the rest of the time going to favorite activities again. It was such an amazing afternoon. I can’t speak highly enough of this place. If you are planning a trip to visit the homestead, keep in mind of the busy season of the July during the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant. They do keep the homestead open for limited hour after labor day through the fall.
Our last stop out of town (after ice cream of course) was to find the Silver Lake trail. After driving and even asking local people about this path, we stumbled upon it. It was a short paved path to a bench in the middle of swamp grass. Silver lake had long been drained and is now just a slew area around De Smet. Chris said, ” they would be better to flood it again and make it a tourist stop” but that is just my entrepreneur husband speaking.