Sod house

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A sod house in the American prairie, 1901
A sod farm structure in Iceland
Saskatchewan sod house, circa 1900
Interior of a sod house, North Dakota, 1937

The sod house or "soddy"[1] was a successor to the log cabin during frontier settlement of Canada and the United States. The prairie lacked standard building materials such as wood or stone; however, sod from thickly-rooted prairie grass was abundant.[2] Prairie grass had a much thicker, tougher root structure than modern landscaping grass.

Construction of a sod house involved cutting patches of sod in rectangles, often 2'×1'×6" (60×30×15 cm), and piling them into walls. Builders employed a variety of roofing methods. Sod houses accommodate normal doors and windows. The resulting structure was a well-insulated but damp dwelling that was very inexpensive. Sod houses required frequent maintenance and were vulnerable to rain damage. Stucco or wood panels often protected the outer walls. Canvas or plaster often lined the interior walls.

Notable sod houses

Sod houses that are individually notable and historic sites that include one or more sod houses or other sod structures include:

Iceland
Canada
  • Addison Sod House, a Canadian National Historic Landmark building, in Saskatchewan
  • L'Anse aux Meadows, the site of the pioneering 10th-11th century CE Norse settlement near the northern tip of Newfoundland, has reconstructions of eight sod houses in their original locations, used for various purposes when built by Norse settlers there a millennium ago
United States

See also

References

  1. ^ Blevins, Win. Dictionary of the American West. Fort Worth: TCU Press, 2008. Soddy. ISBN 0875654835
  2. ^ Sod Houses Forest Preserve District of Cook County (Illinois)

Further reading

  • Two books by Solomon D. Butcher (1856–1927), Nebraska photographer of the homestead era, whose works include over 1,000 photos of sod houses: Pioneer History of Custer County and Short Sketches of Early Days in Nebraska (1901), and Sod Houses, or the Development of the Great American Plains (1904)
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