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. Harriet and Nels Oleson also built a restaurant in the town which would prosper. (Episode 601: Back to School (Part 1), Episode 602: Back to School (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 or law office. Adam Kendall opened the first law office in Walnut Grove but it did not last very long. (Episode 719: Blind Justice) 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. The railroads never gained a foothold in Walnut Grove before 1890 with the last one of them being run out in 1889. (Episode 909: The Empire Builders)
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) and one outbreak of anthrax. (Episode 523: Mortal Mission) The town was abandoned, 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 went soon fell into despair. Charles and Jonathan Garvey 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))
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