September 11, 2008
Last night we found ourselves camping in Washington Park on the west side of DeSmet. We walked to dinner. What a fantastic community! The people are so friendly here and the small town (pop. 1,200) is entirely walkable. We haven’t found any graffiti, and since we’re here out of season I suppose, people keep approaching us and asking, “Are you tourists?” Then they want to know all about us, and tell us a bit more about the town. Last night at dinner it was a farming family native to the area. Today it was first a man in his late 70s (a native) in an electric wheelchair out for his morning fresh air. He had a lot to share. Then it was a local artist who lives in the three-story structure that was once the town’s hospital.
We toured some of the properties here in town that are related to the Ingalls family, including the Surveyors House where the Ingalls spent a winter before homesteading their own place just a mile south of town. We also saw the house that Pa built later in town and which served as Ma’s final home. There’s a replica of the schoolhouse where Laura taught, and the original schoolhouse the Ingalls kids attended here in town. The curator was fantastic with the girls, keeping their attention and keeping them involved in the discussion.
We also stopped in to Loftus Store, and had lunch at Ward’s. (Mmmm…Tater tot casserole with caramel-cinnamon-apple cake for dessert – all homemade!)