Take a Tour
Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family moved to Burr Oak, Iowa in the fall of 1876. After experiencing two summers of grasshopper plagues in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, Charles Ingalls was desperately searching for work. The Steadmans, friends from Walnut Grove, asked the Ingalls to help them manage the Masters Hotel in Burr Oak, and the Ingalls eagerly left for Iowa. Laura was 9 years old when she came to Burr Oak.
The Ingalls lived and worked in the Masters Hotel for 3 months before leaving the hotel business because they did not think they were being treated fairly. The family moved 2 buildings to the south and lived above Kimball’s Grocery Store. Charles started a feed mill, grinding the farmer’s corn and wheat with his horses. Between the hotel and Kimball’s store stood a saloon. After a fire in the saloon, Charles moved his family to a red-brick house at the edge of Burr Oak. It was in this rented house that the youngest of the Ingalls, Grace, was born in May of 1877.
Shortly after Grace’s birth, the family decided to leave Burr Oak and return to Walnut Grove again after becoming burdened with doctor bills, grocery bills, and rent. Although Laura did not live in Burr Oak for very long, she had a wide variety of experiences and stories to share about her time in the town. Laura did not write about Burr Oak in her famous children book series, but she did talk about her experiences in Iowa in her unpublished manuscript called Pioneer Girl. From this manuscript and information given to us by local Burr Oak residents, we have created a factual and interesting tour for our visitors.
Today, the Masters Hotel is the only building left in Burr Oak in which the Ingalls family lived in. Knowledgeable tour guides provide in-depth 45 minutes-1 hour guided tours of the Masters Hotel. During a tour, you will learn more about Laura’s life in Burr Oak, the family’s daily chores in the museum, and the hardships and joys the Ingalls endured during their time in Iowa. Explore the three levels and 12 rooms within the Masters Hotel to learn about Laura’s childhood experiences and the people she met in Burr Oak including Mr. Reed, Mr. Bisby, and Mrs. Starr. A tour includes visiting rooms such as guest bedrooms, a parlor, a kitchen, the Ingalls family bedroom, a dining room, and a tool shed.
After your tour, be sure to check out the park behind the museum. Silver Creek flows behind the hotel and is a place Laura loved to play in during the summer time. Visitors can also see and take photos in a covered wagon just like the one Laura and her family traveled in. Play ground equipment and picnic tables are available as well for your use.
Tours are regularly given throughout the day. Admission fees are $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for children ages 6-17, and $30 for families. Children 5 and under can tour the museum for free. For large tour or school groups, please call ahead to ensure enough staff is on hand to provide you with a wonderful experience. Tour groups are eligible for a town and cemetery tour and kid’s games upon request.
The Masters Hotel
The Travel Room
The Ingalls Family Bedroom