September 10, 2018

Almanzo Wilder Homestead Tour

This past weekend I visited the Almanzo Wilder Homestead in Burke, New York, just five miles from Malone and near the Canadian border. The tour (and tour guide) delighted me. I walked the floors and soil Almanzo walked and learned to appreciate Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, Farmer Boy, in a new way. It was my first research trip for my upcoming book related to the Little House books.
Please note: If you are reading this blog post in an email, you may not be able to see all images or click on links unless you go to the blog by clicking the title of today's blog post. 

I had already spoken to Jim Lusk on the telephone, questioning him about the ice house and other information. It was that conversation that convinced me I needed to hop in the car and make my way to the farm. I'm so grateful I did.

We began the tour outside the store, visible here with the open door. This building includes the store and museum displays. Notice the replica schoolhouse in the background.
Below you see the side view of the Wilder house. The house really was red when Almanzo lived there. The paint was made from red clay mined from nearby Whippleville.

The house is decorated with time-period furniture, dishes, and more. Like many farmhouses then, this house was built in stages, with an addition. Almanzo's father, James Wilder, even moved the stairs.

Although difficult to see, to the right of the house is a garden.
Below you see the roadside view of the house and barns. Of course, the maple tree hides a lot of the view. This maple is sixteen feet around! I suspect Almanzo climbed it when he was a boy. The apple trees in the yard were also likely there when Almanzo was a boy.

Though grass now covers it, we could see where the original driveway was because of the ridges in the yard. (I would not have noticed it if they weren't pointed out to me.)
In the photo below, you see the north and south barns.  The north barn is L-shaped and to the left. The South barn has a wagon wheel by its entrance. A gate connects the two barns. To the far right is the corn crib. 
Here is another view which includes the pump house (to the far right). The barns form a U-shape with a barnyard in the center. That's where Almanzo trained his oxen calves named Star and Bright.
Spending the afternoon at the Almanzo Wilder Farm was an incredible experience. I can't wait to return with my family and do it all over again. By then they may also have an outhouse or ice house reconstructed!

I highly recommend a visit to the Almanzo Wilder Homestead. (See more photos and read information about it by clicking that link.) The only thing missing were doughnuts (but I stopped for a doughnut before leaving the area). Consider becoming a member of the Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Association or shop in the store to help support them. (The online store carries a limited number of items compared to the on-site store.) You can also follow them on social media, but really, to appreciate the site, you'll need to visit! Your tour guide will take you into the barns and house and share with you an incredible amount of information that you won't learn anywhere else.

In keeping with the museum's policy, my photos are limited to the outside of the buildings. Seeing the goods was great, but it was really the information shared verbally that makes this tour incredible.
When you visit (and I hope you will), be sure to visit Malone, New York. You'll see the fairgrounds and the "square" where Almanzo watched the parade from. But...it's not a square. It's triangular in shape! And since you'll be just a few miles from Canada, be sure to dress for cool weather, even in the summer.

This research trip was amazing. Not only did I learn a lot, but I met Jim and Marilyn Lusk. Jim was my tour guide, but the two of them have such passion for sharing the history of the Wilders and Ingalls families. I suspect it this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

The North Country region (as it's called) is gorgeous. My trip was just shy of 1,000 miles. Though I was only at the Almanzo Wilder Farm for the afternoon, it was well-worth the trip. As I said, I'm eager to return and encourage you to visit!

 Happy Trails! ~ Annette Whipple Annette is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at www.AnnetteWhipple.com.

2 comments:

  1. Regards for helping out, good information.

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  2. I cannot wait to visit here some day. I LOVE these books! I still read them, just finished Farmer Boy a week ago. I love to read that one in the fall.

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