Route 66 – Independence & The Ingalls Homestead ~
Route 66: We’re remembering our Route 66 road trip – driven in 2008 ~
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While visiting Rocky Ridge Farm – home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband, Almanzo – we met two moms and their daughters who were on their own special road trip; following the travels of the Ingalls family. When we told them we were following Route 66 and would be passing through a corner of Kansas, they eagerly encouraged us to take a side trip to Independence, KS to visit the Ingalls homestead. And that’s just what we did.
We found our way to Independence, Kansas – stopped for Happy Hour at Sonic – but had a heck of a time trying to find the Ingalls’ homestead. We finally stopped at a mini-mart to ask for directions. If I remember right, from the books, Laura used to talk about Pa going in to town and being gone overnight and I now understand why, as the homestead is about 13 miles outside of Independence, definitely rural!
The site of the Ingalls homestead, which Laura wrote about in her book, “Little House on the Prairie,” is the homestead Charles and Caroline Ingalls – with Laura and Mary – settled in 1870. The local historical society built a replica cabin on the property and the well that Charles dug was still there.
Next door to the cabin there is a farmhouse that was built about 20 years after the family left the prairie and the historical society runs a book store and gift shop out of the house. They have also relocated a one-room schoolhouse and a post office to the site, neither building has anything to do with the Ingalls family, but the historical society is working on creating the era.
As I stood outside the cabin, I let my eyes wander across the prairie trying to imagine what the Ingalls family must have felt when they first arrived in this part of the country – grassland for as far as the eye could see – no civilization to speak of. It was inspiring to once again walk in the path of those who came before us, at a time when the land was so unsettled, and to get a small glimpse into their lives. Sadly, a year later they were on the move again; leaving the land because of the government treaty.
I told Abi I am now inspired to visit the other Ingalls sites, but the two we’ve visited on this trip more than met my expectations and today was well-worth the extra 70 miles.