‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Was Shocked to Find Out This Part of the Show Was Fake

Little House on the Prairie transported viewers to the 1800s by creating the believable village of Walnut Grove. It seemed so real that even star Melissa Gilbert was shocked when she discovered that part of the town that she believed all of those years to be real was actually fake.

Cast of ‘Little House on The Prairie’ | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert couldn’t believe this part of the TV set was fake

When Gilbert and her co-star Dean Butler, who played Almanzo Wilder, visited the location where Little House on the Prairie was filmed, they reminisced about their time on the show, recalling where various buildings on their set were located.

When the two paused to discuss the little house that Gilbert’s character Laura Ingalls lived in, she recalled the creek that was there when they filmed but is now gone.

Butler pointed out that the creek had never been real, something that came as a huge surprise to Gilbert.

“There used to be a fallen log by the creek,” she recalled on the special Remembering the Last Farewell. She added, “Which I didn’t realize the creek wasn’t real.”

Butler was shocked by her confession. “You didn’t know that?”

She responded, “No, I thought it was real. Well there were real frogs in it. Those weren’t fake frogs.”

“I didn’t know that it turned on and off,” she said of the creek. “See? All these secrets they keep from us when we’re kids.”

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Alison Arngrim said they were asked if the mud was real in one scene

Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie, got into a huge fight with Gilbert‘s Laura in the mud and explained in her book Confessions of a Prairie B*tch that people often asked if the mud was real.

“People have actually asked me if that was ‘real mud,’” she wrote about the scene in the episode “Back to School Part II.” “I am perplexed by this; I did not know there was such a thing as fake mud. If they have fake mud, we did not use it on Little House on the Prairie.

“We only used live, genuine, organic dirt on our show. In Simi, along the road into town, there was a large sunken area,” she recalled. “In the summer, it was a popular grazing area for cattle, a cow pasture, and in the winter rainy season, it quickly became a duck pond. Occasionally, when Nellie required a dunking, a hose was used to turn the hole into a large muddy soup.”

“That was what we were fighting in that day, and if you watch the episode closely, you can see it happen,” Arngrim continued. “And at the end, when I’m screaming at Almanzo, ‘Look at me! I’m covered in DIRT!’ you can see that I have said dirt between my teeth.”

There was some concern from the set doctor. “He asked us if we had gotten any in our eyes,” Arngrim shared. “‘My eyes?’ I replied. ‘No, but I just swallowed a quart of it!’ He said that wasn’t good. I did not get sick. I am apparently impervious to mud, duck sh*t, and cow sh*t.”