Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Picture of the Moment - Almanzo Wilder homestead

There is a subculture of leisure travel dedicated to romantically rural sites of factual or fictional literary interest that speak nostalgically of a "simpler" time. Perhaps devotees of Lucy Maud Montgomery's fictional  Green Gables series are the best known, flocking from worldwide to bucolic Prince Edward Island locations that inspired (or were inspired by) the book series.

The best American example may be the widely-scattered historic homesteads of Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband and their families. Similarly passionate enthusiasts of Wilder's loosely autobiographical Little House children's series plan whole road-trip vacations around seminal locations of the series from New York, through the Upper Midwest and Missouri.

This photo was taken near Malone, New York at the boyhood home of Almanzo Wilder (future husband of Laura Ingalls), restored from largely original materials. The 84 acre farm and surrounding countryside looks much as it may have in 1865. I've followed my own wife's interest here and to De Smet, South Dakota, and such sites do add a third dimension to one's impressions of past generations, and a greater appreciation for the challenges of their "simpler" way of life. Today's McMansions have individual rooms the size of this little house, which sheltered a family of five children. But there is life lingering in old boards and something poignant about a commonplace item--maybe even a lowly nail--that someone I've read about may have handled.

Open for the summer from late May to October, general admission includes a guided tour of the restored farmhouse, reconstructed barns, and the (free) museum. Adults: $8.00,  Seniors: $7.50, Children 6 - 16: $4.50. 5 and under: Free.

To get there from Malone:
Drive northeast on US Route 11 for about 2.5 miles (towards Burke). Turn on County Route 23 to the first right, Donohue Road. Take Donohue Road to a T-intersection at Stacy Road and turn right. The Wilder Homestead is about 1/2 mile on the left at 177 Stacy Road.

July, 2014.