When Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House on the Prairie book series, inspired by her own childhood in the 1800s in the Midwest Frontier, she probably had no idea that fans would be interested in seeing firsthand where she came from. People were interested in the real Laura, which they're able to experience at The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum located inside her former home in Mansfield, Missouri.
The Ingalls family was originally from Wisconsin, with their Pepin home serving as the inspiration for the books, though Laura also wrote about their time living in Kansas as well as Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The Mansfield house was where Laura settled as an adult, when she and her husband, Almanzo Wilder, put down a down payment of $100 for 40 acres of Missouri farmland in 1894 after they decided to leave their home in South Dakota. After they moved in with their daughter Rose, their land became known as the Rocky Ridge Farm. The property is now historic for being the site where Laura wrote her beloved Little House books.
Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri
When the Wilder family first moved in, there was just a one-room log cabin on the property. Over the course of 17 years, the family built their farmhouse themselves which is one of the historic sites fans can visit today. You can also see Laura's vegetable garden which was pivotal to the family getting enough food during the long winters as well as the Great Depression. Just walking around the property, you'll feel like you're a part of Wilder's process that led to the classic tv series that brought her beloved Little House series to the small screen.
If you're a big fan of Laura, you have to plan a visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder - Rose Wilder Lane Museum. It has the most Laura Ingalls Wilder artifacts in the world. According to the museum's website, you can see "Pa's fiddle, handwritten manuscripts for the 'Little House' books, keepsakes of the Ingalls and Wilder families, tools and articles made by Almanzo, needlework made by Laura," and more. There is even an area devoted entirely to Laura's only child, Rose Wilder Lane, who also became an accomplished author.
The Rock House
Another must-see is The Rock House, a modern house on the property that Rose gifted her parents in 1928. Laura and Almanzo lived there from 1928-1936, during which she wrote the first four of the eight Little House books, before they moved back to their farmhouse where Laura lived until her death in 1957.
The Rocky Ridge Bookstore is the onsite gift shop where visitors can take home their own souvenirs to remember the historic Laura Ingalls Wilder home. The museum is located in the Ozarks region in Missouri, just under an hour outside of Springfield at 3060 Highway A. It has also been a registered National Historic Landmark since 1991.
Can't get enough Little House? Be sure to check out the Laura Ingalls Museum in Pepin, Wisconsin, the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can even visit a recreation of the Little House in the Big Woods cabin in Pepin, which served as the inspiration for the first book in Ingalls Wilder's iconic series.
Independence Kansas is home to a replica of the one-room cabin where Laura lived as a girl with her family from 1869-1871. The Ingalls traveled to the Kansas prairie after living in Wisconsin.
Independence is also home to a one-room schoolhouse and a well, hand-dug by Pa Ingalls.
Walnut Grove, Minnesota
Walnut Grove is home to a Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Gift Store.
Fans of the Little House on the Prairie series can visit acale models of the Ingalls' homes as featured on the television series and more.
Burr Oak, Iowa
The Masters Hotel, where the Ingalls family resided from 1876 to 1877, is located in Burr Oak, Iowa.
De Smet, S.D.
De Smet, South Dakota features original homes of the Ingalls family and a school which Laura and Carrie attended.
Spring Valley, Minn.
Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband Almanzo moved to Spring Valley in 1890. Though the Wilder home no longer stands, you can still visit one of the family barns. The Spring Valley Methodist Church, which Laura and her husband attended, is now a museum.
This article was originally published in July of 2020.