‘Little House on the Prairie’: Where Was the Classic Series Filmed?

by Samantha Whidden
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The classic TV show “Little House on Prairie” remains well-known even nearly 50 years after its premiere. But where was the series filmed? 

According to Looper, “Little House on the Prairie” was set in Plum Creek near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. However, the hit series was actually filmed in Simi Valley, California at the Big Sky Movie Ranch. The location is known to be the host of other major productions. This includes “Transformers,” “Men in Black, and “Westwood.”

Looper further reveals that Simi Valley is known to be a very hot place, with temperatures reaching between the 80s and 90s during the summer. Alison Armgrin, who played Nellie Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie” actually ended up passing out on the first day of filming.

Meanwhile, exteriors of “Little House on the Prairie” were filmed at a few other locations. They were Red Hills Ranch in Sonora, California; Lake Sherwood, California; and Old Tuscon Studios in Tuscon Arizona. Interiors shots were further done at Paramount Studio lot’s sound stages. 

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Buildings and Structures No Longer Exist

Although the set looked realistic and captured the audience, the structures and buildings that make up “Little House on the Prairie’s” Walnut Grove no longer exist. Michael Landon evidently blew up the set for the final TV movie, “The Last Farwell.”

Dave Sunstrom said that either the show was required to return the site back to its original condition or Landon was furious about the show’s cancellation. Melissa Gilbert disclosed in her memoir that Landon was mad that NBC failed to tell him the fate of the series. “Perceiving disrespect, Mike’s temper red-lined. He wanted to destroy all the set. Walnut Grove. Everything in Simi Valley.”

Landon did speak about the show’s ending. Which was someone purchasing the town and residents destroying property. “I think it makes for a good strong pioneer ending,” Landon told The New York Times at the time. “It was also a nice catharsis for the cast and crew. There were lots of tears when we finally blew up the town. The actors had all become very attached to their own buildings. So it was very emotional.”

Landon went on to add that the production did a few tests first to make sure nobody would get hurt in the show’s finale. “So when we finally blew everything up, it went off like clockwork. We did it all in one day.”

Years after “Little House on the Prairie” ended, any sets that remained on location were further destroyed by wildfires. A 2003 wildfire destroyed the show’s homestead set. And what was left of the show’s location after that was lost in a lightning strike fire in 2019. 

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