The last time I made the journey down to Independence, Kansas and the Little House on the Prairie Museum, we tacked it on to a conference we were attending in Kansas City, so we didn’t spend much time in the actual town. After we left the site itself, we were there long enough to hit McDonald’s and Dr. Tann’s grave and hit the road again. This time I had a little more time there (although my list of things to do next time is still quite long) and when we arrived Friday night we started looking for a place to eat.
First choice, we looked for Sirloin Stockade. Any place with a Hereford on the sign is good in our book (we raise
Herefords), but it appears to now be a Social Security Administration Office. So we tried again. Second choice, the fine dining restaurant I had found referenced in a travel article had been sold and Uncle Jack’s is now a bar and grille and from the outside anyway, heavy on the bar. Third choice, (also referenced in the article) was a genuine soda fountain. Sadly they were closed for the day and not opened weekends. (I was deeply disappointed – I adore phosphates.)
So we tried a place neither of us knew anything about, Brothers Railroad Inn. It turned out it was a good choice. Not only was the service attentive
and the food delicious, but portions were large. There were multiple rooms and patio area. We were sorry we had to get some driving miles in on Saturday night because otherwise we’d been back to try some of that delicious looking pizza the people at the next table were eating. We’d had deep fat fried ravioli and fish instead.
The original Railroad Inn was started in 1950 in Bowie, Maryland. This one is sort of a spin off of that original restaurant by the grandson of original owner. The one in Independence was started in 2003. I recommend it if you’re even in Independence, you can also order from their website.
I’ll have more photos and news from Independence, Kansas and the Little House on the Prairie Museum. But I wanted to share that I was home safe and this great message that one of the little girls in the audience left after my program. (Photo by Michelle Martin used with permission)
If you missed my roving reports from Independence they are short, but I think give you an on the spot feel and I’ll do a couple more when I go to Burr Oak, Iowa later this month to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days there.
UPDATED April 22 2016: I enlarged the photo and added my current signature block. I hope you enjoy a flashback to Independence 2011.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.
This week I just firmed up another homesite. That means that I’m going to take Trundlebed Tales presentations to 4 of the homesites this year. I’ll be at Independence KS and Burr Oak IA this June, at the De Smet SD Pageant in July (3rd weekend of the pageant), and Pepin WI in September. I’m really excited about this opportunity (it’s a record for me) and I’ll keep you informed. First up Prairie Days in Independence KS.
Trundlebed Tales Radio Show’s next interview is going to be with Michelle Martin. Martin is the historical director of the Little House on the Prairie Museum and we will look at both the history and the future of the site. This is Independence, Kansas, not Independence, Missouri which the entire length of the state away. Declare your Independence and tune in.
Trundlebed Tales Ep 8 – Michelle Martin of the Little House on the Prairie Museum in Independence, Kansas – Wednesday, March 23, 2011
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One of our listeners tonight LauriOH kindly shared this link for her photos of Independence.
Laura’s Memories, the Wilder pageant in Mansfield, used to be the hardest one to find dates for. Now they have a minimal webpage where you can find the dates. http://www.laurasmemories.com/
For those of you unfamiliar with the production, it’s staged in a built-in arena near Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary. The seating is the most comfortable I’ve found at any Wilder pageant. The plot starts off with a take-off on Laura’s recorded conversation with Docia Holland (identified only as librarian in the play). As Laura remembers back over her life, stories from her childhood on play in her mind and on the stage behind her. It’s a musical and frankly I think the songs were better than the major production at the Guthrie last year. Be aware though that the cast shares the parts (for example, the same girl doesn’t play Laura all the way through, but does continue to appear on stage as other characters). Also, notice its early start time. They don’t use the dark for special effects, so it starts a full hour before the other two pageants (and they even offer afternoon performances sometimes). It ends early enough so driving to your hotel isn’t a challenge.
Long time fans will notice some changes in the date pattern this year. Usually they split the pageant dates between early or mid-summer and then re-stage it around Wilder Days. This year they’ve moved to the first two weekends in August and the first three in September, which I would think would be easier on the production. They’ve also got the date for Mansfield’s Wilder Day (most activities are on Saturday, although there is usually some Friday and Sunday spillover) set for Sept. 19th. This is the third weekend of September where for the last couple of years they were on the second. I hope this sticks because that takes them out of competition with Wilder Days in Pepin and means that I might have a chance to visit during the days again and hear Pa’s fiddle. Be warned Pepin is about 6 1/2 hours north of where I live and, depending on your route and road construction, Mansfield is about 9 hours south. Don’t try to do them both in one weekend.
This change in dates comes on top of Burr Oak’s earlier announcement of moving their Wilder Days from the second weekend in June to the last, moving them out of direct competition with Prairie Days in Independence. It’s getting more and more possible to not have to choose between events, assuming you have the time for multiple trips. 😉
One of the most well-known features of the Ingalls farm site outside of Independence, Kansas, is Pa’s hand dug well. In fact it was the existence was one of the ways they narrowed it down to one modern place. Pa’s well might be lost under concrete, but we can see another one and help a Tornado damaged town. See the world’s biggest hand dug well.