1836 Prairietown

The outdoor experience areas are closed for the season and will open again on March 26, 2015. Please visit the indoor experience areas, Discovery Station, Create.Connect and Craft Corner, for year round fun and exploration.

Prairietown is a bustling community struggling to survive in the year 1836. Step back in time where the people, animals, objects, buildings and daily routines are just as they were in the 19th century. Meet the townspeople, take a lesson in the schoolhouse, earn some wages by helping with chores, and spend your earnings at Whitaker’s Store. You’ll find that there is so much for your entire family to see and do! The residents of this fictional-yet-historically-accurate town are eager for new neighbors to settle and help the town grow, so they will be very interested to meet you and find out what skills and assets you might bring with you. Will you decide to settle here, or will you choose to keep moving west?

Help Determine the Future of Prairietown

Prairietown’s fate hangs in the balance! It’s the year 1836 and this little community has sprung up in just the last couple of years. Without just the right combination of businesses, professionals and happy families, the town could fail and disappear!

This is where you come in...stop by the outfitter’s cart on your way into town and pick up an Achievement Card or Adventure Guidebook. These will give you and your family lots of ideas and guidance on how to ‘play along’ in Prairietown.

You see, Prairietown needs good folks who will contribute to the town’s welfare and citizenship. You can do this by following the advice on one of several different Achievement Cards that will help build your reputation and skills. Become a healer, a craftsman, a merchant, or a farmhand. Or if controversy suits you better, become a criminal for the day! There are lots of roles to choose from so you can come back over and over again to earn new achievements. Complete the objectives on the Achievement Card to call yourself an expert; level up for even more of a challenge!

For a deeper experience, grab an Adventure Guidebook to enter into a scenario full of challenges and fun. The guidebook will help you think like someone in 1836 and give you problems to solve with the rest of your family. See if you can find a good place to spend the night or get water for your livestock. Can you handle a big problem, like one of your family members getting sick or losing all your money? The guidebook will give you helpful advice on who to meet, and what supplies you should find to make your stay a success!

Seek and find for the youngest travelers to Prairietown

Young travelers ages 5 and younger can get to know Prairietown with a Seek and Find Guidebook. This booklet includes colorful pictures of things to find in Prairietown that are just perfect for young adventurers, while building skills like counting and reading…and having loads of fun!

While you’re making your way through Prairietown, take time to learn about the importance and role of money from our past as you negotiate, trade and barter through the *Prairietown Financial Trade & Literarcy Program.

Get involved in a variety of financial and trade transactions using Prairietown currency. Your negotiation and math skills can help determine a reasonable price for an item or commodity. Use coin to “purchase” items from Whitaker’s Store, like a muddy, nail, ribbon, recipe packet or game packet. Or, just keep the coins as a memento of your fun and travels through Prairietown.

*Sponsored by
National Bank of Indianapolis

Teachers, for more information on how to best use the Prairietown experience during your next field trip, visit the Prairietown section under the Teachers tab of


Prairietown Buildings

Did you know that many of the Prairietown structures date from the 1800s? There are 15 buildings in town. In many cases, they have been restored, faithfully adhering to their history. Original features may remain. A few buildings have been constructed in recent years, using techniques from the 19th century. The newest building in town is the Barker Brothers' Pottery Shop.