Thursday, May 29, 2008

De Smet, Continued

So I was on a limited time frame last night and only go the pictures up. Let me explain a little more about our experience. De Smet is a fairly typical small MidWest town. A lot of farming. Mostly farming, in fact. And as a result, along with the big-boxization of the US, it had dropped significantly in size and importance, except for one critical fact: 5 of Laura Ingalls Wilder's book are set in and around De Smet. Because of that they get 20 to 25,000 visitors each year. Honestly, I'm not convinced how viable the town would be without that.

The four of us stayed in a Bed and Breakfast called the Heritage House. It is on De Smet's main street and just across the street from the location where the Ingalls family stayed during the Long Winter. It was actually pretty cool to be there. On Wednesday morning, we left the B&B and went to headquarters of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial society. There they have the actual surveyor's house that the Ingalls family stayed in, before staking their claim, after Pa had worked for the railroad. It's been moved from its original location at Silver Lake (which, incidentally, was drained in the 1920's) to where it is now. We got to see all the places that we'd read about and that we really neat for me and Sheryl, and lesser so for Kinsey, and not at all for Connor.

On the same site, they have a replica of the school where Laura taught at the beginning of These Happy Golden Years, as well as the actual school house that Laura and Carrie attended, moved from its location as well. From there, we traveled to the house that Pa built after Laura and Almanzo got married, in the town itself. Our tour guide told us about all the things that happened to the Ingalls after the books ended. I didn't get to hear much of that, since Connor was getting restless. After that, we went to the De Smet Cemetery where the Ingalls are buried and then to the best part of the day.

Out at the site of the original Ingalls homestead there is a memorial stone, but further on, on the same grounds is an incredible, interactive experience, called simply, the Ingalls Homestead. On it is a tower to look over everything, then you can see much of what the Ingalls did. They have a Sod dugout, then a claim shanty. You can see a barn with actual animals (a cow and calf). They have an exact replica of what Pa built for Ma on the site as it was when it was finished. They have a larger barn that had a team of horses with a covered wagon that we drove to a school house on the site of the second school that Laura taught at and then you drive back to the barn.

It was really a great experience and I would really, really recommend fans of Laura's books to take the opportunity to go and do it. It really brought the experience of what they went through to life.

Tomorrow (or later tonight): Pictures of a place that nearly brought me to song, the Badlands

1 comment:

Christy said...

I already know w/o the pics that the badlands are beautiful!! Such a testimony of God's strength and beauty. Glad you guys are having fun. I've read most of the Ingalls stories so it is neat to see things through your vacation:)

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