This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.
For the generations of readers who grew up with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, a trip to her Pepin, Wis., birthplace is something of a pilgrimage.
“A lot of people whose kids have read her books bring them to one or two sites this summer, then plan to see a couple more sites next summer,” said Dawn Fayerweather, museum attendant. “As many adults as kids are fans and want to see where she was born.”
Fayerweather, who grew up involved in Laura Ingalls Wilder activities, said that “50 percent of the people who come to Pepin looking for the birthplace don’t realize we have a museum here.”
The museum contains many household items from the time period when Wilder lived in Pepin. A kitchen setting, table and plates, piano, dolls, rocking chair, wood stove, tools and sewing machine are some of the items on display.
A covered wagon, fishing boat and reconstructed period school classroom fill other rooms in the museum.
Because the Wilder family moved often, there is little left of the family’s actual possessions. When they moved away from Pepin, they took all their useful belongings with them. Two quilts, owned by Laura and her family, remain on display in a glass case located in the museum.
Wilder was born seven miles northwest of Pepin on Feb. 7, 1867. The birthplace cabin is a replica built on the same land Laura would have played on as a small child and is the homesite that inspired her first book, “Little House in the Big Woods.”
The current cabin was built in 1996. It is open to the public and visitors may walk inside and wander around the grounds.
In 1996, Pepin and Wilder’s birthplace became the beginning of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway, which connects dozens of sites from Wilder’s life and books. In addition to Pepin, the highway links homes and museums in Spring Valley, Minn., Walnut Grove, Minn., Burr Oak, Iowa, Vinton, Iowa, Urbandale, Iowa, De Smet, S.D., Mansfield, Mo., Independence, Kan., and other locations.
If you go...
Name: Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Birthplace
Address: 306 Third St., Pepin, Wis.
Phone Number: 715-513-6383
Web site: http://www.lauraingallspepin.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. mid-May to mid-Oct then closed for the winter.
Admission: Adults $5. Students K-college $2. Visiting the replica birthplace cabin is free.