Be Here For Our ‘Wilder’ Cultural Events...


Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society » Discover Laura!Ingalls Photos

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.

Ingalls Photos 2Our 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 800-776-3594 or email for information on spring and autumn visits.
Open Memorial Day – Labor Day 9AM – 7PM

Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant » Presents “These Happy Golden Years"

This is your opportunity to ‘Experience the ‘Wilder’ life next Summer!
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant welcomes you to its 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.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant is set on the open prairie just southeast of De Smet. On a nearby hill, the cottonwoods that Pa planted rattle their leaves in the evening breeze. A meadowlark often sings its song perched on a nearby wire fence. Horse- drawn wagons give visitors rides around the pageant grounds.

The Little Town on the Prairie is an autobiographical children's novel and published in 1941, the seventh of nine books in the Little House series.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant is over 55 years old and is presented by a volunteer cast and crew. It takes dedication and many volunteers to put the pageant on the stage year after year.
Last year's director was a local girl, Laurie (Cramer) Husman, now of Houston, Texas. She is a pageant veteran who has filled various roles, including Laura. Husman is a SDSU and USD graduate, who is employed at the theater in Houston.

Gates open at 6:00 PM & Show begins at 8:00 PM.
The 2018 dates are July 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22.

Please join us as we bring this unforgettable story to life! There is bench seating, but you are welcome to bring lawn chairs. Don't forget a jacket.
This Year's presentation, "These Happy Gold Years", is a heart-warming story of Laura Ingalls and her family's joys and struggles as they settle the Dakota Prairie. Please join us as we bring this unforgettable story to life!

Come early...There are free wagon rides for the entire family and photo opportunities. Advance purchase of tickets is not necessary because there is unlimited seating and parking. All seating is general admission. Concessions, gift shop and restrooms are available.
For more information, email or call 800-776-3594 or 800-880-3383.

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

Couse Opera House

De Smet once had a flourishing opera house. The closest you can come now is when you visit Ward's Bakery. Ward's is a great place for lunch or breakfast and is located across the street from what was once "Pa" Ingalls' store. Ward's owner, Patti Ward Slater, has converted it to her family living quarters, but she has retained many of the best architectural features of the old theater. Visitors are impressed by the beauty of the place.

The building now housing Ward's Restaurant and Bakery was Edward H. Couse's hardware store when Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in De Smet. In those days, the town had no place for meetings or public entertainment.

The local citizens wanted a place to host traveling theatrical shows and hold suppers, dances and other events. In 1886, Mr. Couse replaced his frame hardware store with a magnificient two- story brick 44 foot front building. He had the second floor fitted out as an opera house and decided on a unique way to dedicate the new facility. He offered a free kitchen stove and cooking utensils to the first couple willing to be married in the new theater. Of course, he had plenty of volunteers. The event was a success and over the next three decades, the opera house was the prime spot for not only entertainment such as minstrel shows, musicals and vaudeville acyts, but it also provided a place for local social events. In renovating the old theater as her home, Patti Ward Slater has managed to retain most of the architectural features of the grand old theater.
-American Roads Travel Magazine

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