Sod Houses

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Sod houses were made of blocks of sod or layers of turf. Early settlers of the Great Plains constructed sod houses where there were no trees to supply lumber. The structures may have first appeared on the open prairie of Nebraska; as a building material, sod became known as "Nebraska marble." Homesteaders cut sod with spades into square blocks which they piled up to build walls. Roofs were made of thatch or of sod blocks supported by a mat of branches, brush, and long grasses. The dwellings (called soddies) were less than ideal: though they remained cool in the hot summers and provided good insulation from the winter cold, they were prone to infestation by vermin. They were also full of dirt, which fell from the walls and ceiling in particles. Sod houses were improved or replaced with new dwellings around the turn of the century: Carrying building supplies such as timber, railroad lines reached into previously remote regions of the former frontier by 1900.

See also: Homesteaders