By the Shores of Silver Lake

Western by Laura Ingalls Wilder


By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was first published in 1939 and is the fifth of nine books written in her Little House on the Prairie series, also known as The Laura Years. The book takes place over a period of just over one year, beginning when Laura is 12 years old and the family moves from Plum Creek, Minnesota to what will become De Smet, South Dakota. The family is one of the first to settle near Silver Lake. After moving to the Dakota Territory, the family first lives with relatives in a railroad camp, where Pa works as the bookkeeper. The railroad company asks the family to spend the winter in the surveyors' house to watch the equipment, and in the spring Pa files on a nearby claim. Until he can build a shelter there, the family lives in town in a store building Pa built of leftover railroad lumber. As soon as the claim shanty is in place, the family moves into it, although they will return to town during the coming winters until the claim shanty is fully weatherized some five years in the future.
Though Wilder began writing the books as autobiographical recollections, they are considered historical fiction and have won a number of literary awards.

First Published


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