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South Troy / Zumbro Falls today

A town along the Zumbro River in Wabasha County, Minnesota, where U.S. Highway 63 and Minnesota 60 intersect.

This little city enjoys the summer months canoeing, fishing and camping along the beautiful wooded river. Zumbro Falls is a community that consists of 26 businesses, two churches and a city park. The rolling hills that surround this community add to its charm and beauty. – Minnesota Association of Small Towns

Zumbro Falls is located at the intersection of U.S.Highway 63 and State Highway 60, in Wabasha County, Minnesota, about 35 miles north of Rochester. A half mile west of Highway 63 on State Highway 60, a bridge crosses the Zumbro River to the south. This is the location of the original 1870s bridge and still takes you to the site of the original town. First, Second, Oak, Bridge, and Main Streets were there when the Peter Ingalls family lived in this area, and several of the existing residences date from that period.

The railroad tracks no longer run along the Zumbro River here, and Highway 63 south crosses the river and connects to the original road on the south side. The route to South Troy from Zumbro Falls is through part of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial State Forest.

South Troy settlement was originally in the area across from the Pleasant Prairie (Dale) Cemetery three and a half miles south of Highway 60 on Highway 63. There is no evidence of a former settlement, but the original School Number 53 still stands on the east side of the highway overlooking the cemetery. The schoolhouse is on private property and is not open to the public. (See map below.)

The Pleasant Prairie (Dale) Cemetery is most likely the final resting place of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s brother Freddy. Freddy Ingalls died on August 27, 1876, the same day as the young son, Marvin, of one of the members of the cemetery board, Robert Phelps. It’s possible that Mr. Phelps offered Charles Ingalls space for the burial of his son in his own family plot. The original cemetery records record neither a burial for Freddy Ingalls nor for Martin Phelps, yet a headstone for young Martin is in the Phelps row.

Over forty years ago (before most Little House readers even knew Laura Ingalls had been in the Zumbro Falls area or had a younger brother who died there), as caretakers were probing the cemetery for sunken headstones, a rough-hewn limestone marker was found buried near the shrubbery at the end of the Phelps row. All of the headstones for the Phelps family were original and accounted for. This marker was unearthed and moved to the front of the cemetery, where it remains today.

Methodist Church Memorial Marker. Most current maps locate a “South Troy” three-quarters of a mile north of the county line where Township Road 209 joins Highway 63 to the west. This is almost two miles south of where the South Troy settlement historically was located. There is a Methodist church, a schoolhouse, a log cabin, and a farm at this site, a replica death certificate for Freddy Ingalls, plus a historical marker suggesting that it is the site of the old town of South Troy. However, the church wasn’t built until 1884, eight years after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family was in the area. The schoolhouse is the “Red” Schoolhouse Number 49 which was moved to the site from its original location a half mile south, even farther from the original South Troy settlement. The log cabin is of recent construction, and the cabin, church, and schoolhouse are representative of the three most important parts of a pioneer’s life: family, faith, and knowledge.


South Troy / Zumbro Falls today