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Ingalls Dugout Site

Laura Ingalls Wilder lived 1.5 miles north of Walnut Grove along the banks of Plum Creek from 1874 to 1876.  Charles and Caroline Ingalls settled on the property in May 1874 declaring their intent to homestead it.  After three consecutive crop failures they decided not to complete the homestead process.  Instead they purchased the land in July 1876 from the United States for $413 and resold it immediately for $400 to Abraham Keller.



The Ingalls family then moved to Burr Oak, Iowa to help the Steadmans operate the Masters Hotel.  However, hardship continued to follow the Ingalls.  Their only son, Charles Frederic, died en route at the age of nine months.  Seventy-one years later in 1947 Harold and Della Gordon purchased the 172 acre farm unaware of its historical connection.  Garth Williams, an illustrator of Laura's books, had been following the Ingalls' trail in courthouse records.  He visited the Gordons in November 1947 and informed them that their new farm had been homesteaded by the Ingalls.  The unusual depression in the bank of Plum Creek was the location of the Ingalls dugout.

The Gordon family continues to maintain access to the dugout site for Laura's fans.  Visitors can still identify the plum thickets, table lands, big rock, spring, and other sites that Laura describes in "On the Banks of Plum Creek".  The Gordons have left the dugout site as they found it in 1947.  The deep depression is all that remains of Laura's dugout home.  None of the buildings that Pa built remain nor is their exact location known.  About 25 acres of native grasses have been planted surrounding the dugout site since 1999 to enhance the visitor's experience.

The site is open during daylight hours May through late October, weather permitting.  Occasionally, heavy rains cause Plum Creek to flood access to the site.  Entrance to the site is through the current 1900 era farmstead located 1.5 miles north of Walnut Grove on Redwood County Highway 5.  The Gordons charge visitors $5.00 per car or $30.00 per tour bus which is deposited at the site on the honor system.  Follow the signs to a large parking and picnic area along Plum Creek and enjoy the sights and sounds from Laura's time.