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Visit the Wilder Homestead, Where a Classic Children’s Book Comes To Life

posted by Teresa Farrell at 2021-09-25 21:49:00

Generations of kids the world over have grown up reading about and falling in love with the adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder with her “Little House on the Prairie” book series. The books tell a fictionalized history of Wilder’s life, starting with her birth in 1867 and continuing through several moves from the woods and prairies of the Midwest at a time when settlers were just beginning to tame the wild land. And while most of the sites mentioned in the stories are west of the Mississippi River, there’s one that’s right here in Upstate New York--- the Wilder Homestead.

The Wilder Homestead, near the town of Malone in the Northern Adirondacks by Route 11, was the birthplace and childhood home of Almanzo Wilder, born in 1857, who would grow up to marry Laura Ingalls and become a prominent fixture in her stories. The second book of the series, “Farmer Boy,” chronicles Almanzo’s upbringing on his family farm in the small town of Malone, New York, located north of the Adirondack Park, just a few miles south of Canada. Here, the Wilder children lived a life not unlike Laura’s family did on the prairie. Between the harsh winters of northern New York and the plentiful demands of managing a working farm in the late 1800s, “Farmer Boy” gives a detailed account of the value of both hard work and close family, as well as painting a picture of what life was like for an eight-year-old boy in the year 1866. The book follows Almanzo as he tries to get along with his siblings, works on the farm, goes to school in a one-room schoolhouse, and enjoys a few simple pleasures, like a county fair and a Fourth of July celebration.

Today, the Wilder Homestead tells this story to visitors through a series of exhibits and artifacts alongside the grounds and buildings that make up the farm. With 84 acres of farmland, orchards, and woods, including a nature trail to the Wilder family frontage of the Trout River, it’s a beautiful place to spend a day getting lost in history. The original farmhouse, built between 1840-1843 in the post-and-beam construction style popular at the time, has been restored and stands open to visitors today, along with reconstructed post-and beam-framed barns and outbuildings, and replica of a one-room schoolhouse. A visitor’s center, museum, library, archive and gift shop complex, plus a covered picnic pavilion, are the site’s more modern offerings; otherwise, it’s situated the same as it was nearly a century and a half ago.

Visitors can enjoy narrated tours of the building and grounds led by knowledgeable guides who have a passion for the history of the place and Almanzo’s life story, and look at artifacts that have survived from his time, as well as museum exhibits highlighting the farm’s history. Workshops, demonstrations, nature walks, school tours and special events are also offered throughout much of the year. Operated and maintained through the efforts of the volunteer-run, nonprofit Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Association, the Wilder Homestead is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boasts the rare distinction of being designated a Literary Landmark, one of just a handful sprinkled throughout the entire state.

The homestead is open to the public from Memorial Day until late September or early October each year, and visitors regularly come from all over the country and all over the world to get the feeling of stepping back in time—and into one of their favorite literary works. Whether or not you’re a lifelong “Little House on the Prairie” fan, it’s well worth the trip. Just make sure to stay up to date on the latest hours and admission information by checking almanzowilderfarm.com before your trip.

Grounds with house and barns in background photo credit Rick Auger via Almanzo Wilder Farm Facebook page
Historic marker photo credit Almanzo Wilder Farm Facebook page
Wilder Homestead museum photo credit Almanzo Wilder Farm Facebook page
Trout River frontage photo credit Almanzo Wilder Farm Facebook page

posted at: 2021-09-25 21:49:00, last updated: 2021-09-25 22:21:04

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