Sod Houses

United States
April 25, 2017 8:41am CST
Persons who live in other countries might be surprised to know that the early pioneers on the Great Plains of the American continent lived in “sod houses.” The fact is that when families started moving West, they found out that there were no forests on the Great Plains for lumber. There were no bricks or stone quarries either. So the only thing they could build a house from, was the earth. They lived in their wagons and out in the open while building their sod houses. I’ve been on the Great Plains of Kansas and Nebraska and there really are no forests at all. I can only imagine what it must have been like to homestead the land there. They would cut the sod into squares and use these “sod bricks” to build a house. The houses were called “soddies.” When the ground was damp from rain or snow, they would cut the “sod bricks” out. These “bricks” were matted with the roots from the coarse “buffalo” grass. These blocks of sod were called “Kansas brick” or “Nebraska marble.” These “soddie” houses proved to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer and they were fireproof. Later, as other materials became available, the pioneers would add rooms and roofs with shingles. They also mixed clay and ashes with water and made a plaster-like mixture that they spread on the inside walls that could be whitewashed. You might be surprised to know that these old “soddies” were still common sights to see in Kansas and Nebraska as late as the early 1930s. The photo here is a more "modern" house with at least a sod type roof.
10 people like this
14 responses
@JohnRoberts (56667)
• Los Angeles, California
25 Apr 17
The Midwest pioneers also like to build their soddies into a hill or embankment thus part of the structure would be natural. I visited one in Nebraska where the roof was a natural overhang.
2 people like this
• United States
26 Apr 17
Yes, they did that also, but FINDING an embankment isn't that easy on the Great Plains. It's mostly FLAT, from what I've seen.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (56667)
• Los Angeles, California
26 Apr 17
@IreneVincent There are embankments along a river and slight rises.
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Apr 17
@JohnRoberts I don't think I would build a house on a river embankment.
• Ponce De Leon, Florida
25 Apr 17
I love these sod houses. I'm sure somwhere there are people still living in sod houses.
2 people like this
• United States
25 Apr 17
You could be right. You never know what some people are using for living quarters anymore. I've seen all sorts of "dwellings" on a couple TV programs.
• Preston, England
25 Apr 17
I think I could live in that - looks quite nice
2 people like this
@HazySue (21280)
• United States
25 Apr 17
The pioneers were certainly a creative lot. I would guess they came upon this way of building a dwelling because of great need for a roof over the head.. Very interesting. I love the look of the house image you used, it reminds me of ski chalets in the northern areas.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
The photo I used is one I found on Pixabay.com. I love that site. You can find photos of almost anything there and most are FREE to use.
1 person likes this
@HazySue (21280)
• United States
26 Apr 17
@IreneVincent I love Pixabay they have the most interesting images.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
@HazySue Yes, they do and I think that adding a photo makes the post more interesting. Personal photos are nice too.
1 person likes this
@tzwrites (4902)
• Romania
25 Apr 17
These houses are a real fire hazard
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
The "soddies" were actually fire proof. Sod doesn't burn.
@tzwrites (4902)
• Romania
26 Apr 17
@IreneVincent That's interesting. I just saw the straw roof and thought ..hmm. could be dangerous
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
@tzwrites Oh well, you are right about that. This is NOT a "soddie" house in the photo. This is something more modern and I DO believe it would burn very quickly.
@Jackalyn (6655)
• Oxford, England
25 Apr 17
I knew this because of the Little House on the Prarie books. Having lived in a house made of mud brick for a while I can see this as a practical solution to housing n needs.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 17
I've watched most of the episodes on TV of "Little House on the Prairie" but I've never seen the books. I'll have to check at the library. I wish there were more TV programs like "Little House". There is one now that I'm really enjoying "When Calls the Heart" I like shows like this rather than all the shows that feature violence and murder and mayhem.
@Jackalyn (6655)
• Oxford, England
25 Apr 17
@IreneVincent I cannot remember which book they live in a sod house in. It might be "On the Banks of Plum Creek. Someone here will know.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
@Jackalyn I've never read any of Wilder's books, but I think I will look for them at the library, the next time I go.
@Nawsheen (23076)
• Mauritius
26 Apr 17
That's very informative. In my country people used to build houses out of straw
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
Yes, on many of the islands, the people would live in straw houses or huts.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (123138)
• Bunbury, Australia
25 Apr 17
That's very interesting. There are a few houses around here built into the sides of hills and having sod rooves.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
Really? I didn't realize that.
1 person likes this
@FayeHazel (17912)
• United States
25 Apr 17
What a cute little house. I'd heard of the sods - I was a huge fan of Laura Ingells Wilder
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
I've never read any of Wilder's books, but I would like to. Maybe the library has some of them. I did watch the "Little House on the Prairie" series on TV and still watch it sometimes if I see it.
@shivamani10 (11233)
• Hyderabad, India
25 Apr 17
very interesting to know about it. The picture is nice.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 17
I found the picture on Pixabay.com. I love that site. You can find a picture of almost anything there. And most of the pictures are FREE to use.
@Ronrybs (7299)
• London, England
26 Apr 17
In a fashion we seem to be going back to this method. You can get an energy efficent design complete with grass growing out of it!
1 person likes this
@snowy22315 (47020)
• United States
26 Apr 17
Actually, to be honest, I grew up here and I did not know that. It makes sense though.
1 person likes this
@Hate2Iron (7855)
• Canada
25 Apr 17
I think that it's kind of cute... like a little cottage or something for guests to stay in!!
1 person likes this
@Hannihar (35864)
28 Dec
That is great to know what you told us about. I found it very interesting to learn about that. Thank you so much for the information.