By Alice Henry
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
• United States
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.
• United States
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.