Take a Tour of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Midwest Frontier Home

by Jennifer Shea
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Famed “Little House on the Prairie” author Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up across the Midwest – in Wisconsin, Kansas and Minnesota – and later settled in Missouri. Today the home where she lived as an adult and wrote her books is open to visitors.

“Little House on the Prairie” Was Written Here

The Ingalls family home in Pepin, Wisconsin provided the inspiration for Wilder’s books, according to Wide Open Country. But in 1894, the author and her husband, Almanzo Wilder, decided to leave South Dakota with their daughter and buy 40 acres of Missouri farmland.

Their new home, known as Rocky Ridge Farm, is now a historic site because it is the location where Ingalls Wilder actually wrote her books.

It took 17 years for the family to build the farm into something resembling what it is now from the one-room log cabin they found when they got there. Among the stops on a present-day visit to the estate are the farmhouse the Wilders put up themselves and Ingalls Wilder’s vegetable garden, which sustained them through the Great Depression. 

A Self-Sustaining Nonprofit

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum hosts more than 30,000 visitors in an average year. It is located in Mansfield, Missouri, about 45 miles east of Springfield. It is a National Historic Landmark and has been since 1991.

The museum is open from March 1 through November 15 and one weekend in December every year. Masks are required in the Rocky Ridge Bookstore and Gallery. Admission is free for children 5 and under, $7 for children 6 to 17 and $15 for adults.

The site also plays host to The Rock House, a more recent house on the property which the Wilders’ daughter Rose gave to her parents in 1928. The couple lived there until 1936, while Ingalls Wilder was writing the first four “Little House” books. They then moved back into the farmhouse until Ingalls Wilder died in 1957.

The Rocky Ridge Bookstore is the property’s gift shop. It offers books, cookbooks, souvenirs, clothing and collectible items. There is also an online gift shop.

The property currently operates as a self-supporting nonprofit. That means they depend on museum admission fees, memberships and sales from the gift shop to keep the whole place running. And during the pandemic, that’s got to be difficult. But Rocky Ridge Farm has seen tough times before.

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