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Walking Tour: The Sod House

Sod House Interior

Painting by Aurora native Bill Moderow.

As you begin your journey through yesterday, walk through the covered wagon and enter the Plainsman Museum. You'll see a large loom, a log cabin, and the sod house.

Now, a sod house was constructed with little cost, and was cool throughout the summer and warm in the winter. Our sod house here in the Plainsman is typical of the sod houses built by the early pioneer in Hamilton County.

The walls of the soddie were an average of 10" thick. Styles varied, depending on the climate, resources and skills of the builder. The best time to build was in the fall when the grasses were woody and the sod solid.

It usually took at least one week to build one home. The sod house was usually rectangular and faced south. The average size was 14 feet x 12 feet. The "sod breaker" would cut the sod one and one half feet wide. Strips of sod were then cut into lengths two to three feet long.


The "sod breaker" plow was invented here in Hamilton County by George Levee.


Floors were usually hard packed dirt, with sheets strung as ceilings to cover rafters and catch "drippings" of dirt. Most sod houses were only one room with sheets as room dividers, but they had glass windows and plastered interior walls to make the most of outside light within the house.

The most important part of the sod house was the roof. If it failed to do its job, the house failed. Cedar beams, wood and sod were most desirable for the roof. The sod weight and water leakage caused much frustration. Mud and water were common occurrences in the pot of soup, in the bed, or on the table.

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