Pepin

Pepin, Wisconsin, that is. Do you know the significance of Pepin, Wisconsin? If you are a Little House on the Prairie fan, you probably do.

Pepin is the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series of books. Years ago I read all the books in the Little House series and thoroughly enjoyed her style of writing, historical references, and vivid descriptions about what life was like in the late 1800s as a pioneer family traveling west. Those books were the basis for the television series “Little House on the Prairie” which is one of my all-time favorite shows.

Although the television series was “based” on her books, many of the events, characters, and locations are either incorrect or fictional. For example: Laura did marry Almanzo Wilder. However, Laura’s sister, Mary, did not marry in real life, but the TV series shows her getting married to Adam. Nevertheless, there were some truths in the TV series: Laura’s sister, Mary, did go blind as a result of an illness; there was a Norwegian man named Mr. Hanson in Walnut Grove (I’m not sure if he owned a saw mill in real life) from whom Charles Ingalls purchased property and the sod dugout that served as their home along the banks of Plum Creek; and, there was also a Reverend Alden who helped organize the Congregational Church where the family attended and Charles became a trustee.

Now back to Pepin. Laura Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867, in Pepin County, Wisconsin, to Caroline and Charles Ingalls. Laura’s birth site, which is about seven miles north of the town of Pepin, is commemorated by a replica of the log cabin (called Little House Wayside) in which the Ingalls family lived. Her life in the Pepin area formed the basis for her first book, Little House in the Big Woods.

Here are some pictures of the outside of the replica.

Now, here are some photos of the inside. There were SO many people there that day that it was impossible to get any shots without someone in the picture somewhere.

The loft.

The pantry.

The one and only bedroom.

All five members of the family slept in the one bedroom!

The main living room.

Fireplace in the main living room.

The replica of the log cabin is not located on the actual site where the Ingalls’ cabin stood. We asked one of the volunteers if the original location was anywhere nearby. She said yes, and that it would have been located somewhere in the adjacent bean field.

Somewhere out in this bean field is the exact location of the Ingalls’ log cabin.

A short distance south (about a mile) of where the log cabin was located is the intersection of County Rd. CC and County Rd. I. This is the location of the school that the Ingalls children would have attended (which was torn down long ago 😢). They are not exactly sure on which side of the road the school was located, but it would have been located in one of these spots.

Next we traveled east on County Rd. I about four miles to visit Little Plum School and Little Plum Lutheran Church (both are owned by a private individual now who lives in the church basement). The Little Plum School is an 1880s one room schoolhouse that happened to be open to the public the day we were in Pepin (if you stop by and it’s not open, the man who owns it and lives there said to just knock on the door of the church and he would let you in the schoolhouse). Little Plum School would probably have been very similar to the school the Ingalls children attended.

Zoom in and read the story in this picture. The lady that was in the school as a volunteer to answer questions told me she has talked with some of the now elderly men in the area that were the young boys who put the firecrackers in the sand box! She also said they still had that mischievous look in their eyes!

This is the type of cursive handwriting taught in schools in the late 1800s.
This is my attempt at Spencerian Script cursive. It was very hard to do with a quill and ink!

I thought this poem titled “Nothing to Wear” in this very old book was interesting because so many of us women say this phrase frequently! (The rest of the poem is in the next photo.)

We went back into the town of Pepin to tour the the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Gift Shop.

Anna Barry was Laura’s first teacher.

One of the Little House books written in Chinese (or Japanese or some Asian language).

There was SO much more in the museum to see and read about Pepin, Lake Pepin, and the Ingalls family. There was also a gift shop (of course! 😂)

The second full weekend in September the town of Pepin has Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in the city park (which, of course, is named after her!). We had no idea this would be going on when we planned our trip. This celebration is a family-oriented event featuring arts and educational entertainment based on the early American pioneer experience of Laura Ingalls Wilder. They have a Laura and sister look alike contest, a spelling bee, an animal petting area, games and many other events.

I wish I would have taken more pictures of the Laura Days celebration in the park. We were tired and hungry, and honestly, I got side-tracked by some good conversation from a very friendly couple who told us about their visits to various Laura Ingalls Wilder destinations. Well ….. and there might have been a funnel cake involved!

Be watching for our next stop on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Route.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

Another Day of Falls

We were down to our last week in the Duluth area, and we still hadn’t done all the sightseeing that we had planned. We had to set some priorities. We chose to visit Pattison State Park and Amnicon Falls State Park because they were both about 30 miles from us on the Wisconsin side of the harbor, and we could visit both places in one day.

Our first stop was Pattison State Park.

As the Black River passes through this park, it drops 31 feet over Little Manitou Falls, then forms Interfalls Lake, and continues on until it reaches Big Manitou Falls. Here are some pictures of Little Manitou Falls.

Big Manitou Falls’ vertical drop is 165 feet and is the highest in Wisconsin and the fourth highest east of the Rocky Mountains. Here are some pictures of Big Manitou Falls.

We thought both falls were spectacular! The brownish color of the water comes from the tannin leached from the decaying leaves and roots of vegetation along the river’s path. Black River meanders another five miles then joins the Nemadji River for the final ten mile journey to Lake Superior.

Next we drove over to Amnicon Falls State Park.

The Amnicon River flows through the park. It has produced one of the most beautiful series of waterfalls and cascades in all of the Midwest.

In the heart of the park the river separates into two streams and plunges over three waterfalls of nearly 30 feet each. During good water flow (particularly in the spring) the Amincon fills yet another channel and produces a fourth Falls (not the day we were there though 😔).

In less than two miles through the park, the river falls 180 feet as it tumbles over the rocky escarpment of the Douglas Fault. The water has the same brownish tint as the Black River because of decaying vegetation and tannic acid.

There is also a covered bridge across the river that’s pretty cool. Again, the perfect weather and the beauty of the falls and rapids made the time we spent there wonderfully relaxing.

Well, another adventure is “in the books” and posted on the blog!

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

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