Be Here For Our ‘Wilder’ Cultural Events...
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society »
Journey into Laura’s life and history with a visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society. Join our costumed guides and stop into the railroad surveyors’s shanty where Laura and her family spend their first Dakota winter in 1879.
The Memorial Society preserves and presents the largest collection of Ingalls family memorabilia, with over 2000 original artifacts. Children are invited to try an old fashioned sewing machine, dress like a pioneer and learn how to read Braille at the Discovery Center. For more than fifty years, visitors from around the world have been drawn to this fascinating look into the lives of Laura and her family. This is a must see for all Laura fans.
Ingalls Homestead »
Laura’s Living Prairie
Touch history with your fingers! Experience the lifestyle of pioneer homesteaders by twisting hay, grinding wheat, making rope and riding a horse drawn covered
wagon across the native grass prairie to a live one-room country school.
Imagine living on Laura’s wide-open prairie.
Lured by the prospect of free land from the Homestead Act of 1862, the Ingalls family traveled over a thousand miles in a covered wagon to claim land. Pa knew he must follow the homestead requirements: live on the land for five years, build a home and plow at least 10 acres. Laura’s “Little House” books share the stories of hard work and sacrifices her family endured to gain title to this piece of Dakota prairie. For over a century, since Charles homesteaded this quarter section in 1880, it has been used for production agriculture.
Aspiring to share the story of this land Laura called home, the process of developing Ingalls Homestead into a living history farm began in the early 1990’s. Today native prairie grasses cover over one hundred acres, period building house exhibits that explain homestead life and hands-on activities allow visitors to understand the changes in our agricultural heritage. Each season brings more fun activities and displays.
Our friendly staff invites you to spend an old-fashioned family day at Ingalls Homestead: a place to dream and remember. Where a grandfather may turn to his grandson and say, “When I was a boy...” Enjoy camping in a covered wagon, bunkhouse, tent and RV. Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
Call for information on spring and autumn visits. 800-776-3594
Open Memorial Day – Labor Day 9AM – 7PM
Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant » Presents “The Little Town on the Prairie”
This is your opportunity to ‘Experience the ‘Wilder’ life this Summer! The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant welcomes you to it’s annual summer event that brings a Laura Ingalls Wilder book to life on the De Smet outdoor stage. As twilight falls and the leaves of the giant cottonwoods that Pa planted rattle in the evening breeze, the classic story is presented on the open, wide prairie where Laura’s stories actually happened. Children can play on the hillside just like Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace Ingalls and are invited to enjoy a free horse drawn wagon ride around the pageant grounds. This year’s presentation, “Little Town on the Prairie,” tells the story of Laura growing up as her world reaches beyond her family. She is working in town, attending a party, noticing Almanzo, and teaching school all as she becomes a young lady. Please join us as we bring this unforgettable story to life!
Gates open at 6:00 PM & Show begins at 8:00 PM.
The 2013 dates are: July 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, and 21.
Over the years, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant has drawn thousands of people from all over the world to watch this theater. This portrayal of Laura’s books outdoors while viewing the scene where the stories took place gives the books even more meaning. Each summer more than one hundred volunteers combine their talents to present a family-friendly drama based on Laura’s writings. It gives the opportunity for people of all ages and from every corner of the world to gather together on the beautiful South Dakota prairie and step back into history to a time when the West was just opening up to a wave of pioneering men and women. It is the opportunity – through drama – to display and preserve the family values and pioneering spirit of the Ingalls family.
The Loftus Store »
Laura wrote of Mr. Loftus and the Loftus store in several of her “Little House” books.
Daniel Loftus came to De Smet in late 1879 and established the Loftus Store, a general merchandise store that he ran successfully until his death 43 years later. Through his time as owner, Mr. Loftus featured the finest of goods on his shelves, and the store became known as “The Quality Store.” The Loftus Store became the town’s social center: men would play checkers, share the latest area news and discuss crucial information such as when the train would arrive carrying much needed food for the winter.
The original Loftus Store still stands on main street (Calumet Ave.) and displays
memorabilia from times of yore. All are welcome to come on in and live the history.
Silver Lake & Walking Trail
Silver Lake, a pothole lake formed by the melting glaciers, was the site of the railroad
camp and the Surveyor’s Shanty. The Ingalls lived in the Shanty when they first came
to De Smet. The lake, which is modest in size, is often inquired about by many of De
Smet’s visitors. The lake is located just east of the city.
Phase one of a Walking Trail to Silver Lake was completed in 2008. It provides a short concrete path to the Silver lake area. Enjoy an easy walk back in history with excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing.
De Smet Cemetery
The De Smet Cemetery is located southwest of De Smet on a beautiful hilltop with
many trees overlooking the city as well as a view of the site of the Charles “Pa” Ingalls
homestead and the “big slough” to the east. Each year hundreds of visitors view the
grave sites of several of the Ingalls family, including Charles, Caroline, Mary, Carrie,
Grace and infant son of Laura and Almanzo Wilder. Familiar names from the Little
House of the Prairie television series and from Laura’s books are also found on many of the gravestones.
Even though the original ten acres of land for the Cemetery was purchased and the
Cemetery Association was incorporated in 1881 when it was still Dakota Territory,
there are headstones dating back to 1880. A WPA project graveled the roadways
and alleys around each block and a mausoleum was erected in 1978. Of the over
2,100 grave sites, there are veterans with service dating back to 1889; among them
being men from the distinguished Company “E” serving in the Spanish American War
in 1898. The St. Thomas Catholic Cemetery lies adjacent to the east of the original