Thursday, August 26, 2010

Burr Oak, Iowa - Home of Ingalls family and the Master's Hotel

Burr Oak, Iowa - Home of the Ingalls Family and the Master's Hotel

Burr Oak, Iowa is the third and last stop on our Laura Ingalls Wilder home tour this year.  It is over a three hour drive from Saint Paul, MN and just across the Iowa border.

The Ingalls family lived and worked in this town for about 2 years.  Their daughter, Grace, was born here in a little home about a block from the museum.  There are no published Little House books written about this location.  However, I heard that a unpublished manuscript is located in the Herbert Hoover Library in Iowa and could be published in a little over five years.  In fact, you can go to the library and ask them to make you a copy.  The Museum in Burr Oak has a copy you can view if you are interested.

When you arrive here you must first cross the street and visit the gift store to purchase your entry and tour into the museum.  Your tour guide then takes you to the hotel and shows you around the hotel.  My tour guide was great.  Below is a map of Laura's travels that is hanging outside the house.  Notice how close Pepin, Spring Valley and Burr Oak are.

Burr Oak was a main road for people driving their covered wagons west.  About 200-300 wagons passed through Burr Oak a day in the 1870's.  The Ingalls family boarded and helped run the Master's Hotel.  All of 5 of them crowded and slept in one bedroom and Ma was pregnant with Grace.  It cost about 25 cents a night to sleep in the hotel and most of the guests were men as there was a bar in the hotel.  Also guests slept three to a bed.  The cost included a meal as well.  Ma, Pa and the girls were busy cooking, cleaning, and serving  the guests.  Basically is was a very hard time for the Ingalls family.  They had recently lost their baby son, Ma was pregnant, exhausted,  they were making little money, had little privacy and were working very hard.  The only stayed at the hotel for a short time before renting a small house a block away were Grace was born.  They then made the decision to move west.

They traveled west by covered wagon.  This wagon that I am sitting on is located behind the Master's Hotel and in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park where Silver Creek runs lazily through it.  My tour guide said that when Laura's family moved a block away, that Laura used to walk her cow to Silver Creek for water.

Well, I hope I have inspired you to take your own literary trip.  This year I still hope to attend the Laura Ingalls Wilder Festival in Pepin, WI on September 11 and 12th.  I am planning to visit Walnut Grove, Minnesota and De Smet, South Dakota in the future (hopefully next summer 2011)


  1. Thanks for this great post!
    I'm a native Iowan, love little house stories, lived in Kansas not far from the prairie house; now in southern Missouri near Laura's farm.
    My novel is set in southern Missouri, as well.
    Would like to review it?

    Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and forthcoming "The Homeplace Revisited" Spring 2011

  2. Visiting from the HOP! I absolutely love this post! I need to take a literary tour just like this one.

    I hope you will have a chance to visit one or both of my blogs: LibrarysCat Books and Holocaust Resources for children!!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Oh, how cool is that! I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books growing up. I've always wanted to do a literary tour, especially in England, but I would love to roam across America and see the homes of famous writers!

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog :) Wow what an amazing trip this must have been!! I loved Laura Ingalls' books when I was little and you've just reminded me of their awesomeness ;)