Many who have watched the show are probably wondering where was ‘Little House on The Prairie’ filmed. The classic period drama set in the late 1800s depicted the life of the Ingalls on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and first aired in 1974. The show immediately picked up big on the small screen as viewers enjoyed the view of American mid-west culture and the dynamic of life back then.
So the question that has always been asked is: Did they actually film the whole nine seasons in Minnesota? And is Walnut Grove a real place? Well, let’s find out! But before we answer that, let’s take a look at some tidbits about the series that you still might not know.
1. Remember the opening credits scene with a tumbling toddler? That was unplanned.
The then four-year-old twin toddlers Lindsay and Sydney Greenbush were alternating playing the role of Carrie Ingalls due to child labor laws. And during one of the filming, one of the twins tripped on her way down the hill, tumbling as she reached the bottom. The director thought that it was so adorable and decided to use the clip for the opening credits.
2. The show never shied away from controversial topics.
While the show mostly exemplified an idyllic and romantic view of 19th century Americana, it never shied away from depicting difficult and controversial topics. There were episodes that straightforwardly tackled issues of racism, alcoholism, drug addiction, and rape which all remain to be significant in this time.
3. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls, was forced to hide her curves.
Out of the 500 child actresses who auditioned for the iconic role, including Alison Arngrim (who eventually landed the role of Nellie, Laura’s rival), it was nine-year-old Melissa Gilbert who landed the coveted role. But playing Laura was just not all fun and games as the young actress had to bind her chest and hide her curves to exude a more childish look despite her growing up.
4. The strong sisterly bond between Laura and Mary Ingalls was strictly on-screen.
Off-screen, Melissa Gilbert (Laura) and Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) had a tense relationship that lasted the entire run of the show. Surprisingly, Melissa developed a close friendship with Laura’s archnemesis Nellie played by Alison Arngrim. The two even remained in touch even after the series ended. Nevertheless, we can all agree that the three child actresses definitely played their roles with such professionalism even at a young age.
5. Nellie’s famous blonde locks were actually a wig!
Though Nellie and actress Alison Arngrim both sported blonde hair, Alison’s hair was way too delicate to be styled to her character’s signature sausage curls. So they had her wear a wig which was so secured that Alison’s scalp sometimes bled from it. Not only that, but Nellie also had to wear layers of heavy clothing during filming as the costuming tried to be authentic with the overall plot and setting.
6. The Ingalls definitely loved Dinty Moore and KFC at their dinner table.
Whenever the family filmed their dinner scenes, the food served usually was Dinty Moore beef stew. For the lunch scenes at school, the children usually have chicken wings from the famous Kentucky Fried Chicken! A mascot of the iconic Colonel Sanders was also seen making a cameo in an episode in Season 8.
7. The show was almost canceled after Season 2. (Good thing it wasn’t!)
While the show definitely earned popularity after season 1, leading to its renewal for a second season, the ratings took a massive drop after that. It almost got canceled, but luckily when the studio moved the airplay from Wednesday to Monday, the ratings started to get better. And by Season 3, it was doing very well again and went on to last for six more seasons.
8. ‘Little House on The Prairie’ was renamed ‘Little House: A New Beginning’ for the ninth season but did not get renewed after.
After Michael Landon, who played Charles Ingalls, left the show on Season 8, the series was renamed to focus more on the story of Laura and Almanzo. But it did not receive as much love as the original series, and after only one season, NBC decided to cancel it. A year later, they aired three 2-hour specials.
9. Walnut Grove is actually a real town.
Yes, you heard that right. The author and main character of the series lived for a time in Walnut Grove in Minnesota. While they kept the true-to-life name of the town, the set was actually situated closer to Hollywood.
And finally, the question that many have been asking.
10. ‘Little House on The Prairie’ was actually filmed in Simi Valley, California.
Fans have definitely been intrigued as to where ‘Little House on The Prairie’ was filmed, and sad to say; it wasn’t filmed in the actual Walnut Grove in Minnesota. Instead, most of the scenes were filmed in Simi Valley, California. And the farm where the Ingalls lived was actually Big Sky Movie Ranch, located at 4927 Bennett Road. It has become a prominent filming spot, and the science fiction TV series ‘Westworld’ also used this location. Sadly, fans could no longer see the actual set as it was destroyed with a staged explosion for the last episode. Other locations used include Red Hills Ranch in Sonora, California, Lake Sherwood, California, and Old Tucson Studios on 201 Kinney Road in Tucson, Arizona.
Little House on the Prairie