We crossed the bridge from Minnesota to Wisconsin from the Minnesota Great River Road and soon we were in Pepin. This railroad community is a village of 837 on the shores of Lake Pepin (which is really a wide part of the Mississippi River) has many friendly people that we met and enjoyed talking to. Pepin’s most famous residents were Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family in the late 1860’s-early 1870’s. Her first book “Little House in the Big Woods” takes place here.
We first had lunch at the open-air Garden Pub and Grille. What a friendly and fun place! Just bundle up when the weather is cool.
After lunch we went back to the 1870’s with a visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. She was born in this community in 1867 and they have never forgotten it. The 2nd weekend in September the town has a Laura Ingalls Wilder Days festival, we had just missed it. Here is a video of the festival from 2012.
In front of the museum is a group of pavers engraved with names of people who donated to support it. Pave the Way is the name of their fundraiser and you can donate here.
We went in and saw a great many displays depicting life in 1800’s. In the transportation room was a steamboat model that kids could go to the top and pretend to steer it. Boats were especially important for commerce before the railroad came.
Also a covered wagon which families traveled in as they settled the country. The first mobile home!
Also fishing boats and tackle used in the late 1800’s. Laura’s father caught fish on Lake Pepin to provide for their family.
There was also a pearl button industry here too before the invention of plastic.
Just behind the Transportation room is the One-Room School room.
The TV in the corner plays a slideshow of what Pepin was like when Laura lived there. It show photos of her parents Charles and Caroline (who originally from Brookfield, WI!) Also Grace, Mary and Laura (L-R).
On the other side of the building were the home life displays and a few family artifacts or friends of the family. Most were contributed by residents in the Pepin community.
Featured is a coverlet similar to one Almanzo Wilder’s mother might have made on her loom. Also on this table is a tin lantern similar to what Ma (Caroline Ingalls) used when she went out into the winter night and confronted a bear!
There was also a kitchen display at the museum too.
A sign about Laura in the museum.
We had a great visit here, it’s worth it to get a gift from their large gift shop. I got this stoneware mug made by Deneen Pottery in St. Paul. What a great memento of our visit here!
This wasn’t all in Pepin to see. A little further down the road from here is the historic depot and marker dedicated to Laura. It was an actual depot in Pepin, now its a museum. It wasn’t open when we stopped by though.
Here there was also a marker and anchor honoring steamboat captain Phil Scheckel.
We also took a look at some of the businesses near the Pepin Marina not far from the museum. A row of wheel rims made for a nice frame of their downtown. Also this sign.
Paul and Fran’s Grocery, LLC reminded me of an old-time general store. The one we really enjoyed visiting was the shop next to it, T. & C. Latané. They specialize in custom-work in wrought iron, tin and wood. You don’t see many places like that anymore. Learn more from another visitor here.
The ambiance was just as warm inside, including the owners Tom and Catherine. It turns out she also narrated the slide show we saw at the Laura museum too! Stop in if you would like quality work done by people, not a machine. I got a squirrel cookie cutter, you don’t find those everywhere!
We had to take a look at the Marina too. Train tracks cross the marina entrance, there was a lot of train activity today. You could look across the river and see the cars on the Minnesota side.
You could see darker clouds approaching and knew the rain was about to return. We made our way north to the final Pepin point of interest, the wayside making the cabin location where Laura was born. There is a marker there also. The rain had also started by the time we arrived.
You could go inside too.
We take our leave of the Little House at the wayside steeped in the history of this community that played a part in the experiences of our favorite pioneer lady, Laura Ingalls Wilder! After we got back on the Great River Road, we saw a Lake Pepin marker.