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DUGOUT, a temporary home of the prairie settlers. Lumber was scarce and expensive for settlers moving out to the plains in the late nineteenth century, so they erected these structures to provide immediate shelter for themselves and their families. Built into the side of a hill or ravine, a dugout was constructed of sod bricks, a wooden door and window frames, and a roof of brush. They were generally built into hills facing south or east, away from the harshest winter winds. A dugout was usually replaced after some time by a sod house as a settler's abode.


Dickenson, James R. Home on the Range: A Century on the High Plains. New York: Scribners, 1995.

Rogers, Mondel. Old Ranches of the Texas Plains: Paintings. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976.

Eli MosesDiner

See alsoWestward Migration .

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dug·out / ˈdəgˌout/ • n. 1. a shelter that is dug in the ground and roofed over, esp. one used by troops in warfare. ∎  a low shelter at the side of a baseball field, with seating from which a team's coaches and players not taking part can watch the game. 2. (also dugout canoe) a canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk.