Schoolhouses for Laura

In honor of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday – February 7, 1867 – here is a collection of schoolhouses from around the United States. Here are some of Laura’s houses in South Dakota & Kansas & Missouri, the Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota and in Wisconsin.

Laura Ingalls remains one of my favorite authors and historical figures. Happy Birthday, Laura.

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Road Trip Report 13

Brief notes on the trip, state by state, with sights, places, and photographs.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin we drove south on Highway 35 from Prescott to Onalaska. Highway 35 is a National Scenic Byway also called the Great River Road that runs along the Mississippi River on the western border of Wisconsin. The hills roll through beautiful green, lush country. In between the small, mostly vibrant towns are gorgeous overlooks and rest areas with historical markers. This road truly made Wisconsin one of the most pleasant parts of our journey.

Entering Wisconsin.

Entering Wisconsin.

Most of the towns welcomed us with the population count on their signs, some under 100. However, these towns never seemed to lack something happening – even on a Sunday. Many have galleries that attract artists and tourists. Ice cream parlors tempt that passers-by.

One reason for taking this route was to visit Pepin, Wisconsin, birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We had seen her homes in Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota, and this one in Wisconsin fit perfectly into our schedule. Pepin, Wisconsin is 0ne of the larger small towns on the highway. In town we stopped at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum (free admission), which is mostly a museum of early Pepin history and pioneer days. However, the museum also had interesting Little House paraphernalia such as a Little House board game (who knew!?) and dolls of the book characters. It warranted a short visit.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, WI.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, WI.

From there we headed out 7 miles on County Road CC to visit the Laura Ingalls wayside, where there is a reconstruction of the Ingalls’ family home (the one from  Little House in the Big Woods).  The drive is enjoyable and the wayside is peaceful. The unfurnished log house is open to the public. Surrounding corn fields and rural farm country enable visitors to imagine what Laura might have seen in her childhood days.

Historical marker at the wayside.

Historical marker at the wayside.

Little house reconstruction.

Little house reconstruction.

Side/rear view.

Side/rear view.

The interior. This is the loft where the Ingalls girls slept.

The interior. This is the loft where the Ingalls girls slept.

Cornfields behind the house.

Corn fields behind the house.

Another corn field view.

Another corn field view.

If you are in the area, Pepin is definitely worth a visit, as is the 7 mile drive to the Laura Ingalls wayside. You’ll have to drive back to Pepin to find a highway. Before you leave town, get a cup of coffee at Grand River Roasters. It’s excellent. The snacks are delicious and there is wi-fi.

We continued on WI-35 for a while, enjoying the views and the many towns. Eventually we had to veer off and head towards the interstate. Why an interstate? We had an important mission in Milwaukee, WI that we didn’t want to miss.  That story is tomorrow’s post. It’s my favorite part of the trip.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder died on February 10, 1957 at the age of 90. She was born on February 7, 1867.During her lifetime she traversed the country by horse and wagon, survived the long winter of 1880-1881 in Dakota Territory, farmed with her family, taught school at age 15, lived during (what we call) the pioneer days, and saw modern America develop. From horses and mail by ponies and trains to automobiles, electricity, planes, and television – Laura lived a fascinating life. Her books have never been out of print and they continue to delight and educate readers all over the world.
 
I began reading the Little House books around the age of 11, because my mom brought one home from the library and told me that I’d probably like it. I did. And I read those books as fast as I was able. In fact, in sixth grade I won the award for having read the most books in my class. Throughout middle school and high school I read every biography about Laura and every series of books about Laura and her relatives. I couldn’t call myself an expert, but I absorbed and remembered much more about Laura’s life than the average Little House viewer.
 

Before Laura Ingalls Wilder, I adored the American Girls series and the Dear America series, as I have mentioned here. I imagine that reading this historical fiction combined with my mother’s adoration of abandoned buildings, set me on the path to historic preservation.And becoming so enamored with and intrigued by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life gave me someone I still call my role model / idol / hero.Life would not be the same without Laura Ingalls.

Who is your idol in American history?Is this a part of the reason you became so interested in history and historic preservation?

For those who enjoy historical figures, historic sites, and road trips – here are a few of Laura’s houses.

Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin reconstruction of the Ingalls' home in Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas.

Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin reconstruction of the Ingalls’ home in Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas.

The Surveyor's House in Dakota Territory.

The Ingalls' house in the town of De Smet.

Rocky Ridge Farm, Mansfield, MO - home of Laura and Almanzo Wilder.

The Rock House on Rocky Ridge Farm.