Walnut Grove was a small town in Minnesota.
Walnut Grove was founded by Lars Hanson in 1840. The town prospered but remained small, and most people seemed to be farmers and laborers.
By the mid-1870s, when the Ingalls arrived, the town had a general store known as Oleson's Mercantile, owned and operated by Nels and Harriet Oleson; a post office; a church and school; a feed and seed warehouse; and a saw mill. The Oleson family lived directly in the town while the Ingalls family lived in Plum Creek, and the Edwards and later the Garveys lived near there as well. Mr. Edwards, a long-time friend of the Ingalls moves to the town there alone at first until he meets Grace Edwards whom he later marries adopting three orphaned children John, Carl, and Alicia Edwards. (Episode 208: Remember Me (Part 2)
Though a small town, Walnut Grove was not off the map and out of touch with the world and was subject to Minnesota-state taxation for new roads and other things which in July 1876 nearly caused a problem within the community. (Episode 220: Centennial) Because of its size, Walnut Grove had no police force or jail (Episode 121: Child of Pain), nor a permanent judge nor law office. All these public and private services would have to be brought in from elsewhere. There was also no rail service in Walnut Grove and residents had to go to Springfield to catch a train, such as when Mary Ingalls entered the state math competition (Episode 214: The Pride of Walnut Grove), and when Charles Ingalls went to Wisconsin to visit his brother and father. (Episode 306: Journey in the Spring (Part 1), Episode 307: Journey in the Spring (Part 2) People would have to drive miles from the railroad out to Walnut Grove to get themselves there, or to make deliveries. Because of its generally friendly people and "small town charm," Walnut Grove had many traders and passersby, some of whom took advantage of its friendly folk such as the Galender brothers. (Episode 309: The Bully Boys) The town was also visited by diseases such as a typhus outbreak (Episode 120: Plague)
In the late 1870s, the town fell on hard times and was abandoned becoming somewhat of a ghost town, except for Doctor Baker and Lars Hanson, when the Ingalls, Olesons and Garveys left to live in Winoka for a time. (Episode 501: As Long As We're Together (Part 1) While they were away, Lars had a stroke and Doctor Baker cared for him. The ghost town of Walnut Grove soon fell into disrepair and overgrowth. When Charles and Jonathan Garvey returned, they helped when they returned to Hero Township. Lars began to recover but ultimately succumbed to the effects of his illness. However, he was able to see his town restored to its former glory, which pleased him. (Episode 506: There's No Place Like Home (Part 2) Afterwards, Walnut Grove became a thriving town again with everything that was opened again.
During this time, the remnants of the bankrupt Winoka School for the Blind set-up the school again in a large house formerly owned by Mr. Hanson, until it was destroyed by fire. (Episode 512: Blind Journey (Part 1), Episode 513: Blind Journey (Part 2), (Episode 618: May We Make Them Proud (Part 1) The Olsen's open a restaurant in town attracting residents and visitors which prospered until the end of the town. (Episode 601: Back to School (Part 1), Episode 602: Back to School (Part 2) Joe Kagan and Hester-Sue, the town's first Afro-Americans lived and worked there and were mostly accepted. The town also suffers a deadly outbreak of anthrax. (Episode 523: Mortal Mission) The farmer and laborer Almanzo Wilder, Laura's future husband moves there. The circus considered it to be populous enough to come there twice. (Episode 605: Annabelle), (Episode 806: Gambini the Great)
Laura, then married to Almanzo becomes school teacher there and the couple own a house there which was later destroyed by a sudden tornado. The couple soon build a much smaller house which they remain in until the end. (Episode 817: Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow (Part 1), (Episode 818: Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow (Part 2) Shortly after his wife's death, Mr. Garvey, unable to find work in the town moves to Sleepy Eye. (Episode 703: A New Beginning) Adam Kendall opened the first law office in Walnut Grove, but it did not last very long. (Episode 719: Blind Justice) Mr. Edwards begins living in Walnut Grove again after his divorce from Grace and his bout with alcoholism. (Episode 819: A Promise to Keep The big railroads attempted to gain a foothold in Walnut Grove in 1889 but were eventually run out when the town's residents threatened action against them. (Episode 909: The Empire Builders)
In 1890, a greedy railroad tycoon called Lassiter - who actually holds the deed to the township - turns up, and he wants to take it over for his own financial gain. The townspeople are unable to drive him away, and when Lassiter tells the townspeople to leave, the citizens of Walnut tearfully blow up the town to stop him from using it for his own gain. (The Last Farewell)
- Walnut Grove an interactive map