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De Smet today

City in central Kingsbury County, South Dakota, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 14 and S.D. Highway 25. De Smet figures prominently in multiple Little House books.

There is much to see and do in De Smet, SD! – KDLT News, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

De Smet is located in Kingsbury County, South Dakota, forty-two miles west of Brookings on U.S. Highway 14. De Smet is 112 miles west of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The former Chicago and NorthWestern Railroad bed and tracks are still within sight of the highway for much of the distance between Walnut Grove and De Smet. De Smet’s original Main Street, Calumet Avenue, runs 15 degrees east of north / south one block east of State Highway 25 (originally Poinset Avenue). The Big Slough still lies to the west of the Ingalls Homestead two miles south of town. Silver Lake was born as a prairie pot-hole lake centuries ago and its condition and water content continues to vary from year to year.

The Ingalls Homestead is a half-mile south of Highway 14 on Homestead Road. Be sure to stop at the Wilder Welcome Center on Calumet for information about local attractions; bus tours offered in season.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society has its headquarters in town on Olivet Avenue.

The De Smet Cemetery is located southwest of town (location indicated by a cross on the map at right). Take Prairie Avenue south off Highway 14. Buried here are Charles and Caroline Ingalls, Mary, Carrie, and Grace, Laura and Almanzo’s son, and numerous characters mentioned in the De Smet Little House books.



Many of the sites of interest in De Smet are within walking distance of each other. Tours of the Surveyors’ House and the Third Street House begin at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, located at the corner of 1st and Olivet.

Check the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society page for a printable map of De Smet. Green boxes on the map at left indicate places of interest. (1) Statue of Father De Smet, (2) original Congregational Church sanctuary, (3) house owned by Laura & Almanzo Wilder, (4) Site of first schoolhouse in De Smet, (5) Charles Ingalls home on Third Street, owned by the LIW Memorial Society, (6) The Loftus Store, (7) The Depot Museum with Harvey Dunn schoolhouse, (8) site of Charles Ingalls building, (9) Kingsbury County Courthouse, (10) Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society with first schoolhouse and Surveyors’ House.

In town, be sure to visit the Loftus Store, the original building continuously in use since being built in 1880.

Almanzo Wilder’s homestead and tree claim are north of town on State Road 25.



Ingalls Homestead
20812 Homestead Road
De Smet, South Dakota 57231 USA
phone: (605) 854-3984 / (800) 776-3594

Charles Ingalls’ 1880s homestead is located 1.5 miles south of De Smet; take Highway 14 to Homestead Road. Currently owned by the Joan and Tim Sullivan family, the Homestead offers lots of hands-on pioneer activities (in season) for the whole family, including twisting hay, wagon rides, and grinding wheat. There are farm animals, horses, and ponies. Native prairie grasses have been reintroduced and crops are planted and harvested the old-fashioned way. A replica shanty, hay-roofed barn, one-room schoolhouse, and other buildings are available for exploration. The Little Slough still exists on the property and the Big Slough is adjacent to the homestead. The photo below was taken at Big Slough, looking east over the Ingalls Homestead property. Camping is available, and an observation tower affords a wonderful view of the area, from Silver Lake to Lakes Henry and Thompson and beyond.

The Little Prairie School offers short school lessons in an original 1880s schoolhouse. Fun for both children and adults!



Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, Inc.
Box 426 – 105 Olivet Avenue
De Smet, South Dakota 57231 USA
phone: (605) 854-3383 / (800) 880-3383

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society was founded within weeks of Laura’s death in 1957, as a non-profit corporation dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Ingalls and Wilder heritage sites in De Smet and to provide information and promote interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder and her De Smet Little House books. Its first project was to erect a marker on the corner of Charles Ingalls’ homestead site, where five cottonwood trees still stand today. Buildings and building sites of Wilder interest were marked with commemorative signs. In 1967, the Society purchased and began restoring the Surveyors’ House mentioned in By the Shores of Silver Lake. In 1972, the Ingalls home on Third Street was purchased.
Tours begin at the Society, and include the Surveyors’ House and the Ingallses’ home on Third Street. A “Discover Laura” hands-on learning center is located in the old Anderson schoolhouse across the street. A Gift Shop is located in a restored historical home next to the Surveyors’ House.

In the fall of 1975, the Society began publishing the Laura Ingalls Wilder Lore, a bi-annual news magazine dedicated to all things Laura. Check their website for subscription information.



De Smet Depot Museum / Harvey Dunn School
De Smet, South Dakota 57231
phone: (605) 854-3991

The original De Smet depot burned in 1905, with the current building dating to the following year. Closed as a depot in 1969, it was purchased by local banker S. Neal Meyer and donated to the town as a city museum. Multiple buildings house countless artifacts that tell the story of De Smet. The original schoolhouse attended by artist Harvey Dunn was moved to the museum grounds.

The museum is staffed by volunteers during the months of June, July, and August. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.



Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Society
Box 154
De Smet, South Dakota 57231 USA
phone: (800) 776-3594 / (800) 880-3383

Each summer in July, the Pageant Society presents an outdoor play based on one of Wilder’s De Smet Little House books. The pageant grounds are located just north of the Ingalls Homestead and the LIW Memorial Society’s native rock monument located on a corner of the original homestead property, with performances held in the evenings. Check website for details.


De Smet today