Walnut Grove, Minnesota

Take a video tour of Walnut Grove!

Now you can virtually walk the banks of Plum Creek.


Walnut Grove may be the most recognized name of all the towns Laura wrote about in her books, although it is the only town she did not mention by name, because Michael Landon's television series "Little House on the Prairie" of the 1970s and '80s was located here. Although the show depicts the family as living here through Laura's adulthood, in reality, they only lived here a few years.

In 1874, when Laura was seven years old, the family left their home near Pepin for the second time and settled just outside Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Laura writes of her early years here in On the Banks of Plum Creek. The family lived in a dugout in the creek bank until Pa could build a house. Laura and Mary began school again, and made both friends (the Kennedy children) and enemies (Nellie Oleson).

Laura's baby brother, Charles Frederic Ingalls (Freddy), was born in Walnut Grove on November 1, 1875, although Laura did not include this in her books because he only lived for nine months.

Pa had felt that Minnesota would be "the land of milk and honey", but a plague of grasshoppers destroyed the wheat crops two years in a row, forcing Pa to leave his family behind to find work in the East, harvesting crops not affected by the grasshopper plague. Pa was offered a job managing a hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa, and the family moved there in 1876. A year later, the family returned to Walnut Grove.

Laura was nearly 11 years old now, old enough to earn money for the family by babysitting and doing odd jobs. At first, the Ingalls family lived with their friends, the Ensigns. Pa built a house in town, and worked as a storekeeper, butcher, then carpenter.

In the spring of 1879, Mary became very ill. Her illness was followed by a stroke, which resulted in blindness. Soon afterward, Pa's sister Docia came from the Big Woods and offered him a job with the railroad going west. Though Ma wanted to remain in Walnut Grove, Pa felt a better future could be found in Dakota Territory. He accepted Docia's offer gladly. Thus ended the Ingalls' stay in Walnut Grove.


The Ingalls farm is privately owned today, but the owners have generously made it possible for visitors to see the site of the dugout, Plum Creek, the tableland, and other landmarks mentioned in On the Banks of Plum Creek. A museum in town features information on the real Laura Ingalls, as well as memorabilia from the television series. On the museum grounds are an old-fashioned school, church, and dugout replica, as well as rooms containing period items and hands-on activities for children.

Buildings at the museum site in town

Site of the Ingalls dugout on Plum Creek

Plum Creek

Laura writes of Pa's donation toward the purchase of a church bell. This bell now hangs in the belfry of the English Lutheran Church in Walnut Grove. In addition, many of the town's citizens come together each summer to produce an outdoor pageant based on On the Banks of Plum Creek.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
330 Eighth Street
Walnut Grove, Minnesota 56180

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl

Copyright © 1996 - 2008
Rebecca Brammer & Phil Greetham
Do not use without permission.