March 20, 2013

take a walk

Blogger's Note: During my travels the past few years, I had the opportunity to visit various booked-related hot spots. With this month being Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday month, a LIW post seemed fitting. Originally posted on my now-defunct blog, Lit Adventures, this is one of my Literary Adventures. Enjoy.

Grasslands near the banks of Plum Creek.

Laura Ingalls Wilder fans can walk in the steps of the famous author and her family when they visit their home site in Walnut Grove, Minn. The site is located on a plot of land owned by a family, who generously allows visitors to check out places described in the story for a small fee.

One of the features included at the Ingalls' Dugout Site north of Walnut Grove includes two walking trails.

According to a note from The Gordons:
Check out the beautiful wildflowers.
In Laura's time, tallgrass prairie covered this land as far as the eye could see. Over the past 100 years the banks of the creek have been grazed and some areas planted with corn, soybeans and some wheat. However a few original grasses and flowers undoubtedly remain in unplowed areas. Periodic spring burns have allowed the native grasses such as big bluestem to regain a foothold, especially on the table lands.

We believe that the visitors to Laura's childhood home would like to see it as it was then. It is our intention to restore prairie grasses over time on the farm. In 1999 and 2000 the Minnesota DNR assisted with the planting of additional native grasses near the creek. In 2002 an additional 20 acres have been planted to enhance your experience and to protect the Minnesota watershed from farm run-off. Two hiking paths through the prairie start from the dugout site across the creek.
Signs located throughout the walking path give a map of the area and other information. Each trail takes about 20 minutes to walk. While walking around the area be respectful of the wildlife, which includes a variety of native flora and fauna.

Sign showing a map of the paths.
With the exception of people who live on their own prairie, taking this trail offers an idea of what Laura's world would have looked like during her day.

In addition to taking a walk across Laura's prairie, you are also in close proximity to the impression of the dugout, Plum Creek and other sites mentioned in On the Banks of Plum Creek. Unfortunately, though the area looks much the way it would have in Laura's time thanks to preservation, the dugout itself collapsed many years ago.

The farm is also a short drive from the museum in town, the church housing the bell Pa helped purchase and Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway.

The Ingalls Dugout Site is located off the highway north of Walnut Grove. Cost is $5 per car or $30 per tour bus. It is open daily until dusk.

Suggested Reading:
Little House Guidebook by William Anderson and Leslie A. Kelley
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Walnut Grove, Minn.

Here I am channeling my inner LIW and running across the prairie.

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