Little House on the Prairie

Season 2 Episode 10

At The End Of The Rainbow

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Dec 10, 1975 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
94 votes

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Episode Summary

While fishing in a stream, Laura and a friend discover something shiny in the water. Believing that it is gold, Laura and Jonah take many secret trips to this spot to gather it all. Laura fantasizes about all the wonderful things she can afford for her family, but when she and Jonah haul their findings to the bank, they are both heartbroken and humiliated to learn that it is only "fool's gold." Laura feels that she has disappointed the people she loves, but Charles has an important lesson to teach her about what he and Caroline really value in their children.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Laura and her friend strike gold while fishing--or do they?

    This is a fine episode because it deals so charmingly with the way children see things and dream of the future. While fishing, Laura and her friend, Jonah, find "gold" in Plum Creek. They spend weeks secretly panning one screen-door full at a time (using a screen door "borrowed" from Oleson's Mercantile). After weeks of work, the twosome skip school to haul their treasure to the bank--where Mr. Sprague has the painful duty of telling the kids that what they've found is actually iron pyrite--better known as "fool's gold". In a touching final scene, Laura tells her Pa that her disappointment is mostly felt because she wanted to buy nice things for him. He replies that she gives him, "everything he needs, every single day. All the gold in the world can't buy that". Watch for the hilarious "dream sequences", where the Ingalls are featured in white finery and jewels, while the Olesons are barefoot and don dirty sackcloths. Priceless.moreless
  • I may be in the minority, but I was rather bored by this one as Laura and her friend, Jonah, believe they have found gold in the creek.

    Miss Beadle has been teaching the children about the gold at Sutter's Mill and the lesson gives Laura and her young friend, Jonah, the idea to try panning for some themselves down at the creek.

    From here on, things get pretty predictable, although they are very sweet as Laura and her young buddy find what they believe to be a ton of gold. Laura has dreams of fine dresses and mansions (and buying everything from the Oleson's store!) and of riches beyond her wildest dreams. Naturally, both she and Jonah and shattered when they take a ton of their gold dust to Mr. Sprague at the bank and find that they have only Fool's Gold, so there will not be extra riches right now after all.moreless
  • Laura and a friend discover gold in the creek and she begins dreaming of a different life for her family.

    I love this episode for it's simplicity. What child doesn't dream of becoming filthy rich and getting everything they always wanted? You have to watch this one firmly believing in the innocence of youth, as it may be hard to fathom 2 children finding gold (or thinking they had), panning it for days and days and never telling a soul. Or suspecting that something's not right. How hard they worked in pursuit of something they didn't realize wasn't genuine was so bittersweet. You admire them for their tenacity, but feel sad for their gullibility. It's one of those "I don't know whether to laugh or cry" episodes.

    The best scenes, and the ones where you're definately laughing, are the dream sequences. Laura dreams of a life as a wealthy girl, with her family dressed in finery and owning half the town. For some reason, in these dreams, the Ingalls' wealth coincides with the implosion of the Oleson fortune and they are filthy and destitute in these dreams. It's hilarious, more so thanks to the hillbilly soundtrack that accompanies them.

    Laura is heartbroken when she realizes the truth. She is not angry about the wasted work, but sad that she won't be able to give to her family the way that she dreamed of.

    Pa tells her that she gives joy to her family everyday and that is better than gold. One of the messages here is obviously that the Ingalls' have a wealth of a different kind. It's much the same as the "Richest Man in Walnut Grove" theme. That if you have a family that you love and can be with, then there is no better happiness that money can buy.

    This comes up again once or more, usually accompanied by complaints about Nellie and how she has everything she wants, so clearly it was a theme that was important to core of the show. To indicate that although she had so little materially, Laura's life was full of other riches. Which is why we still read her books today.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Charlotte Stewart

Charlotte Stewart

Miss Eva Beadle/Mrs. Simms (1974 - 1978)

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Alison Arngrim

Alison Arngrim

Nellie Oleson/Dalton (1974 - 1981)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • When Willie and Nellie go to give their mother a kiss, you can see the clock says that it's 1:20. But then Nellie goes through the screen door and Willie says, "Screen's back." When Mrs. Oleson goes to see, you can see that the clock says about 8:52.

    • This episode includes the first time in the series in which Laura wears her hair up in a bun (albeit during the dream sequences), as opposed to the pigtails she usually wore, or letting it down.

    • It's interesting that, with all the reading Laura did, she apparently never came across a reference to Fool's Gold. True, her history textbook may not have contained a reference to it, but it is odd that the same textbook would include techniques for panning for gold (especially since people were still panning for gold during that period, so it would hardly be a historical reference worthy of inclusion in the book) without mentioning the existence of Fool's Gold.

    • This is absolutely the only Little House episode where the Oleson family is seen as dirt poor, and it is only in Laura's dreams! Also, in these dream scenes, we see the Ingalls family filthy rich, walking around Walnut Grove in gorgeous, fancy white clothing that is topped by nothing else that the family wears in the entire series, even when they've got their Sunday best on.

    • In this episode's dream sequences, we have the rare experience of not only seeing Alison Arngrim (Nellie)'s natural hair, but seeing it completely straight! This is obviously when Laura is fantasizing about the Olesons being dirt poor, and Arngrim doesn't wear her Nellie wig.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Charles: Mr. Sprague told me.
      Laura: I bet everything thinks it's a big joke.
      Charles: Nobody else knows. And I don't think it's very funny when somebody works as hard as you did trying to surprise their loved ones.

    • Laura: You know, Pa, it's a good thing we couldn't get that big house after all. Ma would have a terrible time cleaning all those rooms!

    • Laura: (after finding out that the "gold" was fake) Oh, Pa, I was going to give you so much! I was gonna buy Ma everything at Olesons', and buy you a brand-new house and everything. And now look at it.
      Charles: Half-Pint, now you listen to me. You give us everything we want every single day of our lives. You give us love, respect, and joy. There isn't enough gold in the whole world to buy those things.
      Laura: (pauses, then smiles) It was kind of nice dreaming about it.
      Charles: Well, sure it is. That's what dreams are for.

    • (Laura and Jonah are fishing and Laura giggles.)
      Jonah: What?
      Laura: Your name is Jonah.
      Jonah: So?
      Laura: You're trying to catch a whale!

  • NOTES (2)


    • Sutter's Mill is referenced several times in this episode. John Sutter was the owner of Sutter's Mill in Colona, California. There, in 1848, a mill worker discovered a few flakes of gold that would eventually lead to the California Gold Rush.