September 7, 2018 Welcome to South Dakota! Our 23rd state. Look carefully at the second road sign…we even have our own homestead here. I guess we will just move it.
Mitchell is best known as the home to the World’s Only Corn Palace, which dates back to 1892.
325,000 colorful ears of corn are sliced and nailed by hand onto the building to create murals. Local farmers plant 10-12 different colors of corn in separated plots to ensure plants don’t cross pollinated and dilute the purity of the colors. There are records of 34 corn palaces across the midwest but this is the only one remaining. It’s free to visit and open daily 8-5.
Chris is the best! He drove us 3 hours out of the way so we could visit one of the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder. When we left the last park, the jacks had trouble so Chris worked on finding the problem (he thinks it’s the motor and looked around for a repair shop with no luck) while the girls and I explored Little Town on the Prairie.
If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan like we are, you will appreciate the fact that we drove 3 hours out of our way to visit De Smet. I grew up reading the books and watching the TV series so I gave them to the girls to read. Mackenzie read them all and was just as excited as I was to see all the places we had imagined. This is the first Little House on the Prairie site we have had a chance to visit. This town has historic sites from the books By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years.
The family lived here from 1879 to 1894. Free land and a job with the railroad lured the Ingalls family to Dakota territory. We were able to visit the family homestead, a house in town built by Charles (Pa), the Brewster School, and the surveyor’s home the Ingalls lived in when they first moved here.
We visited the museum for 20 minutes before the noon tour that lasted about 2 hours and then spent 30 minutes in the Discovery center. Each stop on the tour had an activity for the kids to do; comb harmonics, beaded necklaces, sewing, and learning Braille. For us, it’s like watching all the Disney princess movies and then going to Disney World:)
The museum had a manuscript on exhibit along with the carriage Laura and Almanzo used when they were married.
Surveyors House that they lived in for the first year until Pa built their shanty on the homestead he was claiming a mile from town.
DeSmet’s First School that Laura and Carrie attended when they first arrived.
Brewster school where Laura taught, at the young age of 15.
The house that Pa built in town.
The city of De Smet. Laura wrote about these in a few of her books. They have plaques to read with the excerpts from the books to help jog our memories.
The Discovery Center was so much fun. It was very interactive. We had the place to ourselves. We dressed up in the period clothing, pretended be in school, made our names in Braille, practiced sewing and made ‘calling cards’.
2 thoughts on “Mitchell and De Smet, SD”
Back in 2009, we flew into Sioux Falls just so we could visit DeSmet before continuing across the state to the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, etc… We stayed in a local B&B that was absolutely charming and attended a play out on the prairie in the evening based on one of the books (which I would have enjoyed immensely were it not for the sparrow sized mosquitoes.)
We hit the Corn Palace on the way back from the Badlands too!
Did you all see the 1800s town? Touristy attraction, but fun stop about 90 minutes east of Badlands NP off the main highway.
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That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing. I wish we could have seen the play!
I didn’t know anything about the 1800s town – reasons to visit again!
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