Author Cindy Wilson will present an extension to her Deep Valley Book Festival Cabin Fever program, “How the Hard Winter of 1880-1881 Became Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter,” at the Blue Earth County Library (100 E. Main St. in Mankato, MN) at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 19.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter beautifully details the dramatic events of a winter of never-ending blizzards, leading to railroad blockades that all but cut off fledgling communities in southwestern Minnesota and southeastern Dakota Territory. But what was it really like that winter?

Pulling from regional newspapers and historic photographs, this engaging presentation provides an overview of the Hard Winter of 1880-1881, specifically the weather, the railroad efforts to battle the snow, food, fuel, newspapers, and boosterism.

Wilson is the author of The Beautiful Snow: The Ingalls Family, the Railroads, and the Hard Winter of 1880-81. The book placed Gold for the 2021 IPPY awards and was a finalist for the 2020 Indie Excellence awards. Learn more at

The event is free and no registration is required. Refreshments will be served. The event is sponsored by the Deep Valley Book Festival and the Blue Earth County Library.