I love the Little House on the Prairie book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In fact, I love just about anything to do with “pioneer” times and prairie culture. I have such a place in my heart for it that if I believed in reincarnation I would believe one of my past lives was during the pioneer times. I have always loved the idea of self-sufficiency and living off the land. As a child, I was often making things as they may have in the pioneer times. I felt as if Laura was a part of me. That somewhere deep down we “knew” each other and were connected on some level. I have even been known to dress in Pioneer clothing from time to time.
I knew that Laura was a ‘real’ person and that the stories, although fictionalized, were based on actual things that had happened to the actual Laura. However, it never really occurred to me that places might exist where I could go and see the things that Laura saw. It never occurred to me that her house could still be around. After all the pioneer times were sooooooooooo long ago.
Several years ago, shortly after I moved to Arkansas it dawned on me that Laura had spent most of her adult life in my new neighboring state of Missouri. In fact, it was in Missouri that Rose (Laura and Almanzo’s daughter) was mostly raised and it was also where Laura wrote all of the books in the Little House series. In the back of my mind I knew there must be some kind of museum, or at least an historical marker, that commemorated the place where these event had occurred, yet for some reason I never really looked in to visiting the museum.
As this summer was nearing it’s end, Richie and I were looking for something fun to do before it was over. We often make the trip to Branson, Missouri. It’s far enough away that you feel like you are actually getting away. The last time we visited Branson we felt a little bored. We go there so often (several times a year) that we had already seen and done everything we wanted to do and see and this time we were looking to do something different. That something turned out to be visiting Rocky Ridge Farm, the adulthood home of Laura and Almanzo Wilder. After a little research we discovered that Rocky Ridge Farm was just a little over 3 hours away from our house! It had been so close all this time and I had never even realized it.
The site includes the original home built by Laura and Almonzo, a museum and a bookstore. Just down the road is a rock house built for Laura and Almonzo by their daughter Rose from a plan she ordered out of a Montgomery Ward Catalog. Although the museum is old and in need of some updates it was still a really neat place. I am so glad we went! Here are a few pictures from out visit.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum is located in Mansfield, MO about an hour east of Springfield. The museum is open from March through November. Several times a year they have special events where “Pa’s” fiddle is played. Additionally just down the road is the cemetery where Laura and Almonzo are buried.