‘Pioneer Girl’ tells the true story behind the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books

Little House fans rejoice!  Laura Ingalls Wilder’s long awaited memoir, Pioneer Girl has finally been released.  And after only a few days, it has established a firm position on Amazon’s Best Seller list in the biography category.

Here’s what the Christian Science Monitor has to say:  ‘Pioneer Girl’ tells the true story behind the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books.

Bringing “Little House” Animals to Life: A Conversation with Sharon Lewis Evans

Who was your favourite Little House on the Prairie TV show character? Was it Laura? Or Mary? Or maybe it was nasty Nellie Oleson? In answering this question, do you consider the animals as Little House characters in their own right?

I know Sharon Lewis Evans does.

Sharon and Cobber

As a professional animal trainer and wrangler, Sharon worked on NBC’s Little House on the Prairie TV series as the show’s Dog Trainer from 1976 to 1978. During this time, she was responsible for creating the memorable performances of Laura’s dog, Jack (played by Jack and Barney) and Bandit (played by Jeff). Sharon and I recently caught up to discuss her time working on the show and how she got started working in Hollywood. After more than 3 hours of chatter, laughing and sharing, it became clear that Sharon Evans is one of those people who make you feel as though you’ve known them for years, despite only having just met. After working with some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities (think Elizabeth Taylor), she would have every right to be at least a little bit hoity-toity (snip). But no, Sharon is about as grounded as you can get. Here’s what she had to say.

TCT: Was being an animal trainer something you always wanted to do?

SE: Not at first, but when I was in high school, I knew my love of animals was really strong. I loved dogs, and I especially wanted a horse, but couldn’t have one because my family lived in the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley. As you can imagine, there wasn’t enough space for horses in small residential backyards. But regardless of not being able to have a horse as a pet, I would draw pictures of them and other animals constantly and eventually became an art major in high school. I thought I might pursue a career in art or something similar. At the time, I never really knew that training animals was something a person could do professionally.

My best friend and I rode horses regularly and we even participated in a riding academy at a rental stable for a while. We rode with McClellan saddles and we had uniforms and ranks and it was sort of like being in the U.S. Calvary. We did drill work on horseback and we would perform and compete with other posts and divisions. One of the teachers at my High School was also a counselor for a camp that had a dedicated horse program. He got us job interviews at the camp and we were successful in getting work there. It was our first job after we graduated High School. We got to be Head Wranglers of the horses and kids riding program. It was like heaven for us.

TCT: How did you get your professional start in the industry?

SE: I was given a school assignment that required me to go out into the business world and find a company that “helped people”. We were to interview an employee and find out more about their work. I chose the “International Guiding Eyes” of North Hollywood and spoke with the only licensed woman trainer in the United States. On the day of my interview, the trainer was scheduled to undertake the final performance testing of two German Shepherd dogs, to see if they were suitable for working in the next class of blind students. She gave me the opportunity to participate in the testing by blindfolding me and getting me to work the two dogs. It was an amazing and exhilarating experience. While blindfolded, she gave me instructions on how to command one of the dogs, so it could lead me from North Hollywood to Burbank. She worked the other dog (while sighted) behind me and watched to see if the dog was doing the right things. Then we switched dogs and I worked the other dog (while I was blindfolded), back to the school.

At first I was very tentative about it. I didn’t want to run into anything! I found myself holding back and the trainer just told me to relax and “go with it”. She explained that I needed to trust the dog and guess what? The dogs both passed with flying colors. This meant they were ready to be matched up with a blind person in the next class at the school. After that experience, I knew that training Guide Dogs for the blind was what I wanted to do. There was never any doubt in my mind. That was the career I wanted. My intention of being a professional artist disappeared.

Unfortunately, when I came back from summer camp to apply for an apprentice position at International Guiding Eyes, the director of the school told me they were not hiring women at that time and Lee was no longer working there. I was devastated and didn’t know what I was going to do for my career. But I knew I wanted to train dogs. So, I got a job at a boarding / training kennel in Burbank, which involved some cleaning, learning how to train boarded dogs and also providing private and group training lessons in the park. I discovered from my boss about working with animals in TV and movies. That’s when knew I had found my calling to become one of the first female animal trainers in the film industry. I was not going to hear that I could not do this job and I was determined to make it happen. But no one told me it was a field dominated by men!

Frank Inn was my first boss in the film industry. He was one of the largest providers of animals in the business. I started working for him in November 1968. I paid my dues working in the kennel for a year before he finally asked me to go to the studio the next day and work with him on Petticoat Junction with Higgins, who played the character of “Dog”. Frank sponsored me as an animal trainer into the Teamsters Union Local #399 and was a great mentor for me. He owned and trained all the Benji dogs and his animals starred in many TV shows, including the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and My Three Sons. I became a 3rd trainer, then a 2nd trainer and finally a number 1 trainer, which meant I could be the head trainer of my own jobs and had other trainers working with me. I was one of three women in this very prestigious business. It never entered my mind that I couldn’t do it. I persevered until I was a top trainer in my field, working with wild animals, dogs, cats, livestock and even exotic birds.

TCT: Tell us about your first day on the Little House on the Prairie set.

SE: When I got the call from the owners of Jack and Barney (Peggy and Hal Driscoll), I never thought I would be asked to become the new trainer on Little House on the Prairie. I already loved the show and had been watching it for two seasons. So, of course I said a big “yes” when the opportunity presented itself.

Sharon Evans and Michael Landon

I started working on the show during Season 3 in 1976. Jack and Barney (who together played Jack) had been placed into my care prior to me starting, so when I arrived at Paramount Studios for my first day at work, I had them with me. The animals used on the show were never kept on the lot. They always went home with their trainer. I also brought my own dog, Cobber with me. The three dogs got along famously. I initially checked-in with the 1st Assistant Director, Maury Dexter – who introduced me to Michael Landon as the new trainer. What Maury didn’t know was that I had already met Michael during the couple of times I had worked on Bonanza.

My first impression of Michael Landon was that he was very funny. On Bonanza, Michael and Dan Blocker would goof off sometimes. One day, in between scenes, Michael was sleeping in a hammock and Dan tip-toed over and pushed the hammock upside down and Michael fell onto the ground with a big thump. Being awoken so suddenly, Michael sprang up on his feet and was ready to fight – but Dan was in stitches and of course, recognizing Dan’s joke, Michael cracked up, too.

Working on Little House was incredibly special. The cast and crew became like family. And although Michael Landon was my boss, he was also my friend.

TCT: Why was Jack on the TV show not a brindle bulldog, like Laura Ingalls Wilder described in her books?

Jack Little House on the Prairie

SE: I never heard it directly from Michael – because I didn’t ask him. But having been in the business for so long and knowing Michael so well – I am almost certain about the reason. You see, a brindle bulldog would not have had the “cute” look that I think Michael wanted. He was all about pulling at people’s heartstrings. It was always his intention to give the show that homey feel. This meant that Jack needed to be cute and soft and friendly looking – and I suspect this is why a shaggy dog was selected in preference to a bulldog. It was simply a friendlier look and feel. He wanted viewers to fall in love with the dog – and they did! The shaggy dog was also very popular in those days. A few TV shows of that era used them, including, “The Partridge Family” (Simone the dog) and “My Three Sons” (Tramp the dog). I worked with both Tramp and Simone on those shows.

TCT: In Season 4, Jack dies and Charles brings home a stray border collie, named Bandit. How different were the dogs to work with?

SE: That’s a really good question, because they were totally different – not only because they were different breeds, but because they were trained for entirely different purposes using different techniques.

Sharon and Bandit

Jack and Barney were specifically trained as movie dogs and were experienced working on a TV set. During the time I worked them on the TV series, they lived at home with me and as a result, I had a very close relationship with them. They always responded well to my commands and they didn’t expect treats for doing the things I asked of them. Jeff (who played Bandit) on the other hand, was completely different. He came from the Animal Actors show at Universal Studios and the commands he responded to were for routine performances. So Jeff was rewarded with treats during and after the show for performing in a routine act. After responding to a command, Jeff would look at me and wait for a food treat, which is a big no-no in film trained dogs, because the goal is to have the animal interact with the other actors, not stare off set at their trainer. So getting Jeff settled into a TV environment took some time and it was difficult at first. After a lot of rehearsing with him at Universal Studios on their western set, he and I became more of a working team by the time I had to do his first episode. Both dogs were great, though.

Of course, in real life, Laura Ingalls Wilder never owned a border collie named Bandit, and nor did she describe such a character in her Little House books. Bandit was created purely for the TV series by Michael Landon.

TCT: Do any of the cast or crew stand out in your memories?

Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon probably stand out the most in my memories.

Sharon Evans, Melissa Gilbert, Jonathan GilbertMelissa and I became really good friends. She loved animals and because I looked after the dogs and most of my scenes were with the Ingalls family, we naturally became quite close. Melissa and her brother Jonathan (who played Willie Oleson) would come out to my ranch for BBQ trail rides. I compiled some of the photos I took from those visits into a scrapbook recently, which I gave to Melissa when Little House on the Prairie – The Musical was in Sacramento.

Michael Landon also stands out to me because we worked so closely together. He and I would sit down with the scripts, when he was directing an episode, and go through the parts in detail and he would tell me what he wanted from the dogs in each scene. I enjoyed working with Michael. Even though he was funny and could play pranks and joke around sometimes, he had a very serious side to him and he knew what he wanted. We were all expected to perform at a high level.

TCT: Apart from Little House and Bonanza, what other projects have you worked on?

I’ve worked on many commercials, TV shows and movies over the years, which are too numerous to list here. In 1978, I was the first female animal trainer to ever work with Rudd Weatherwax and Lassie on the movie, “The Magic of Lassie”, which starred Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Stewart. Rudd asked me to do the cat work on that movie. I was then asked by Rudd to be his 3rd trainer for the next movie with Lassie in the pilot for a new series, “The New Beginning”.

In 1973, I was awarded the prestigious AHA Award of “Picture Animal Top Star of the Year” (PATSY), which is the animal equivalent of an OSCAR for my work with Midnight the cat on “Mannix and Barnaby Jones”. This AHA PATSY award was presented to me by Betty White, as she was hosting the show with her then husband Allen Luden. I was also the dog trainer on “Love Comes Softly”, a period drama based on one of Janette Oke’s books. Coincidently, it was directed by Michael Landon Jr. and he hired my dog Cujo to play the part of Buddy.

TCT: What are you doing now?

I live with my husband, Ron, in northern California and run Crystal Hill Ranch. We supply antique cars and trucks for weddings, parties and special events. I also provide private dog training lessons and horse riding lessons. We have one beautiful daughter, who is a hair stylist and lives away from home. At the ranch, we have 5 horses, 3 dogs, and 2 kitties. I still keep myself available for film work with animals. I was hired in 2011 as a trainer to provide cats and horses for the movie, “Hemingway & Gellhorn”, which starred Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. A movie I did in 2006 is still in post-production, which required scenes with rats. It is called “Road to Red” and is a thriller starring Sean Gray and Chris Blasman.

I have also partnered up with a writer and have a long term plan to write a book about my 47 years of experience working in Hollywood as a trainer as well as my other animal related work. I just finished a really nice chapter for my book on my experiences working on Little House!

Speaking of Little House on the Prairie, keep a look out for several interviews with me that will be featured in upcoming special features of the newly re-mastered Blu-ray and HD DVDs that are being released.

TCT: Thank you for joining us Sharon and best of luck for your book project and your future TV and movie projects.

A Virtual Tour of Rose Wilder Lane’s former Danbury Home

Rose Wilder Lane’s former residence at 23 King Street, Danbury, Connecticut has been listed for sale.  This week, I spoke to the real estate agent and obtained the owner’s permission to share the following photographs as a virtual tour.
Rose Wilder Lane Home 1In March 1938, Rose Wilder Lane made a $2,600 down payment and secured a $900 mortgage against the property.  She wrote to Burton Rascoe (a Newsweek journalist) saying that she had purchased a “little farmhouse” on land that was complete “with old apple trees and lilacs”.  The private and tranquil property, which she wrote about so fondly and with great expectations for the future, would be the place she would call home for more than 25 years.  And by all accounts, the residence was immaculate when Rose moved in.  Perhaps that was why she inherited two cats that refused to leave with the previous owners!
1b Front of HouseDuring her period of residence in Danbury, Rose provided editorial assistance for several of her mother’s Little House® books, including By The Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years.  After Laura Ingalls Wilder’s death in 1957, Rose became the driving force behind publication of On the Way Home, which contained Laura’s original diary from the trip she made with her husband Almanzo Wilder and Rose from South Dakota to Missouri in 1894.  Apart from the work that Rose did on her mother’s novels; however, Rose’s own writing in Danbury became increasingly focused on political and social theory.
2 Rear of HouseWhen Rose purchased the property in 1938, the home was relatively small and measured a modest 23ft x 24ft.  At the time, its primary features included a large porch and an attached woodshed.  But over the next two-and-a-half decades, Rose would undertake a series of expensive renovations and attractive additions, which would see the home evolve into a much larger and enviable residence, capable of hosting a veritable who’s who of visiting writers and intellectuals, including Genevieve Parkhurst, Norma Lee Browning and Roger Lea MacBride. Today, the home features four bedrooms, four bathrooms and covers an expansive area of 3,505 square feet.
4 Lounge Room 4a Lounge Room In 1949, Rose wrote in her journal about some of her renovation accomplishments.  She noted the construction of fire places in the living room and study, and the installation of bay windows in her bedroom.  She also wrote about the construction of a new upstairs porch between her bedroom and the original lumber room (wood shed).
7 Bedroom 8 Bedroom 8 BathroomArguably, the most attractive feature of this home is the large kitchen and breakfast room, which features a unique brick floor (below).  Rose designed and coordinated its construction and the outcomes of her efforts were featured in an October 1960 edition of Woman’s Day magazine.  The article included a candid picture of Rose sitting at her table, which may have been captured without her knowledge, because she was wearing a dust-cap on her head.  That particular picture is reproduced on page 216 of William Holtz’s book, “The Ghost in the Little House” (1993). 5 Kitchen 5a Kitchen 6 Dining Room
A Danbury newspaper once reported that Rose’s library consisted of approximately 10,000 books.  This is not surprising, since Rose was a voracious reader from a very young age.  Most of her collection would have been stored in this impressive room (below), which features floor to ceiling bookshelves.9 Library
Today, the home at 23 King Street overlooks a large and immaculate garden, featuring a waterfall that cascades into a koi fish-pond. With an overall block size of 2.03 acres, Rose Wilder Lane would have found this ample to support her goal of a largely self-sufficient lifestyle, particularly during the Second World War.  In the spring of 1943, she negotiated with her neighbors to share a cow, some pigs and chickens, which no doubt became an important source of butter, cheese, eggs and ham.  She also planted a large vegetable garden and at one time had approximately 1,200 jars of home-canned food in her cellar. 3 Rear of House 12 Gardens 10 Gardens 11 Gardens 13 Gardens
The home at 23 King Street is listed by ERA Goodfellow Homes.  If you are interested in purchasing this property, the agent, Demaree Cooney can be contacted on (203) 417-0304 to arrange a viewing.  The current asking price is $450,000.

November or December for Pioneer Girl? Who to believe?

Since they’re both owned by the same company, I was surprised to find two different dates listed on Amazon and The Book Depository for the much anticipated release of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography.

If Amazon is correct, I will have some terrific Christmas reading.

Amazon

On the other hand, if I’m to rely on The Book Depository, it’s a New Year’s Eve delivery at best.

TBD

The Book Depository Listing of Pioneer Girl.

Sure, it’s only a small rant, but some consistency would be welcome.

South Dakota State Historical Society – Images from BEA

The South Dakota State Historical Society Press just updated their Facebook page with a series of images from their display at Book Expo America a couple of weeks ago.  I know, I know – the expo is well and truly old news.  But like most Laura fans, I’ve been waiting to hold Pioneer Girl in my hands as a “proper book” (i.e. sans bulldog clip) for over 20 years. I can’t help but share my excitement about these preliminary activities with the world.

 

7 Best Things to See & Do in Walnut Grove, Minnesota

It’s easy to characterize Walnut Grove as just another sleepy town in south western Minnesota. On the surface, there is little to distinguish it from other villages in the region. There’s a water tower, a small diner and the ubiquitous railway line. Peak hour traffic and traffic lights are non-existent. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that Walnut Grove has special literary and historical significance. As the former childhood home of pioneer author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, the town offers more for visitors than is immediately apparent. Instead of driving straight ahead, slow down and take the turn into town. In doing so, you’ll discover plenty of ways to spend a full day in the real locale that inspired the famous Little House® book, On the Banks of Plum Creek.

Walnut Grove is located on Highway 14, approximately 3 hours drive west of Minneapolis.  It is the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Laura Ingalls Wilder never mentioned the town of Walnut Grove by name in her books, but in 1974 when NBC first aired the Little House on the Prairie TV series, people immediately made a connection and it wasn’t long before a steady stream of tourists started arriving in town. This year, both the TV series and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove are celebrating their 40th anniversaries. On July 25-27th, a TV show reunion is planned to occur in the town, with many of the show’s stars slated to appear.

On The Trail – To Walnut Grove and Back
In 1874, Laura Ingalls and her family relocated from Pepin, Wisconsin to a farm approximately 2 ½ miles north of Walnut Grove. The family initially lived in a dugout on Plum Creek and afterwards in a framed house close by (no longer standing). After a series of successive crop failures, the family left Walnut Grove in the summer of 1876 and moved to Burr Oak, Iowa to help run a hotel (below). It would have been a period of intense sadness for the Ingalls family, due not only to the failure of their farm, but because Laura’s baby brother, Charles Frederick died before they reached Burr Oak.

The Ingalls family lived and worked at this hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa alongside William and Mary Steadman.

Laura never published her memories of living in Burr Oak. And despite some happy times, most notably the birth of her sister, Grace Pearl in May 1877, the Ingalls did not see a future for themselves in the town. The social environment was not ideal and money was extremely tight. Charles decided it was time to move on and the family returned to Walnut Grove in 1878. Instead of living on their farm near Plum Creek, the Ingalls resided in town. They remained there until Charles took a job with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad in 1879 as a book-keeper, time-keeper and store-keeper. The new job would eventually take them to Dakota Territory.

But what does 21st century Walnut Grove have to offer visitors?  Read on for our picks of the seven best things to see and do in town.

1. Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
For many Wilder fans, the museum (below) is their first port-of-call in Walnut Grove. Visitors can learn about the history of the real Ingalls family and the time they lived in the area. Unique to the museum is the combination of exhibits relating to both the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie TV series. While purist Wilder fans can enjoy viewing items that belonged to the real Laura, including a sewing basket and quilt; TV show fans can salivate over an entire room full of memorabilia from the beloved series. Popular items include the actual mantel from the show, a selection of TV props and a wall mural (pictured below) depicting Oleson’s Mercantile, the school house / church and other points of interest from the TV town.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum was established in 1974 and is located at 330 Eighth Street.

This mural of the TV version of Walnut Grove was painted by Greg Preslicka, a Minnesota based artist.

004 - LHOTP Mantle

The museum’s multiple buildings are positioned around a planting of wildflowers, similar to what Laura would have seen when she lived near Plum Creek. Each building focuses on a particular aspect of pioneer life. Visitors can view equipment from the former Walnut Grove Tribune office, see inside the home of an early Walnut Grove settler (pictured below) and imagine themselves as a child, learning their lessons in a one-room school. The museum also features a replica dugout (actually, it’s more of a sod-house – there is a difference), a display of more than 300 Kelton dolls and a kitchen exhibit.

This early settler’s home was located on land once owned by Eleck Nelson, a neighbor of the Ingalls family.

Those with no interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder can easily spend an hour at the museum, but Little House devotees can (and do) spend much longer.

2. The Dugout on Plum Creek
No visit to Walnut Grove is complete without visiting the remains of Laura’s dugout home on Plum Creek, just north of town. Wading in the cool waters remains a favorite of many visitors and I admit to never tiring of getting my own feet muddy and clothes wet when I visit. The feeling of the mushy creek bottom and the tiniest of little fish nibbling at my legs takes me back to my own memories of childhood and a simpler time. A marked walking trail is also open to visitors.

A marker highlights a depression in the creek bank, where Laura’s dugout home used to be.

Wading in the water of Plum Creek adjacent to the remains of Laura’s dugout home continues to be a favorite for visitors to Walnut Grove.

The land on which the dugout exists is privately owned and farmed. The owners graciously allow visitors to access their land for a small fee and ask this to be deposited into an honesty box, just a short drive inside the farm’s entrance (below). There are no restrooms, so visitors should plan accordingly. Sufficient turning space is available for RVs.

3.  Family Festival
A few weekends every summer, Walnut Grove comes alive with its annual Family Festival. City Park is where most of the action occurs, with both kids and adults being catered for. There is a Laura and Nellie look-alike contest, live music, craft and food stalls, plus a variety of pioneer demonstrations. Quite often, the festival features celebrity appearances from the Little House on the Prairie TV series.

011 – Little House Stars

4. Wilder Pageant – Fragments of a Dream
The Wilder Pageant, also known as “Fragments of a Dream” is an outdoor play / drama presented over three weekends every summer. Patrons sit on folding chairs or blankets on an embankment overlooking Plum Creek. From here, they watch local and nearby residents present a rendition of the life and times of the Ingalls family during the early years of Walnut Grove. The atmosphere is almost haunting as the sun sets and the chorus sings. Patrons are encouraged to visit with the cast after the performance (pictured below).

Wilder Pageant cast members enjoy a moment with Laura / Nellie look-alike contest participants after the evening’s performance in 2010.

The Wilder Pageant set is well constructed and maintained.  Be sure to look out for the sophisticated use of pulleys during the church construction scene.

5. Driving Tour of Town
Many visitors enjoy driving around the town to see parcels of land where Laura went to church and school. Although the Congregational Church that she wrote about was demolished in 1954, the bell that Charles helped to purchase can still be seen by visitors. Today, it hangs in the belfry of the English Lutheran Church on the corner of 5th and Wiggins Streets (below).

Located across the street from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum is the former Masters Hotel (below). Laura worked here during the summer of 1878. The building is now a private home and is not available for viewing.

The Masters Hotel, which is now a private residence.

Approximately 35% of Walnut Grove’s residents are Hmong. As a tribute to the fusion of traditional Hmong and American pioneer culture, a large mural was recently painted on the side of the Bubai Food Store (pictured below). It was created by Greg Wimmer, a Rochester based artist.

Painted by Greg Wimmer, this mural is located on the corner of 6th and Main Streets.

6. Shopping
The town has a couple of stores that cater for people wanting to buy antiques. Junk with Purpose is located on the northern side of Highway 14 and sells re-purposed furniture, clothing, primitive style trinkets and ephemera. I’ve picked up a few small pieces here over the years and everything is quite reasonably priced. Another popular store is Fond Memories at the Creamery, which is located on Main Street in a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the business name suggests, the building once served as a cooperative milk processing facility. The store stocks a large range of scrapbooking supplies and stamps, many of which have a pioneer or Laura Ingalls Wilder inspired theme. Visitors will also find a range of antiques, giftware, jewellery and other small items for sale.

7. Eating at Nellie’s Café or the Walnut Grove Bar & Grill
Luckily, visitors are unlikely to find Alison Arngrim cooking her notorious cinnamon chicken at Nellie’s Café in Walnut Grove.  Instead, patrons will find far more appetizing fare at this small diner, located on Highway 14. Visitors should remember that many establishments in mid-western towns close relatively early – so be sure to plan accordingly. The café can become packed with diners during the annual Family Festival, so once again, plan ahead. When you’re there, be sure to check out the notice board area at the entrance to see a few mementos of visitors from the Little House on the Prairie TV series.

Nellie’s Café is located on the north side of Highway 14.  It has recently undergone a facelift and the red paint has been replaced by a stucco and rockwork facing.

The Walnut Grove Bar & Grill offers regular pub-fare and is the only bar in town. Unlike others I’ve been to over the years, this one has a friendly atmosphere and I’ve never felt uncomfortable as a woman travelling alone and sitting down for a meal or drink.

Places to Stay
At the present time (June 2014), there is no dedicated lodging in Walnut Grove, other than camping at Plum Creek County Park. The closest nearby accommodation is in Tracy, Minnesota – located 8 miles west. The accommodation options there include an older style drive up motel (Wilder Inn) and the Valentine Inn Bed & Breakfast. If you can’t find accommodation in Tracy, a number of other nearby towns have motel style lodging, including, but not limited to Lamberton (10 miles east), Springfield (25 miles east) and Marshall (30 miles north west).

Enjoy your trip to Walnut Grove.