Sod House Museum – Aline, Oklahoma

Sod House Museum - Aline, Oklahoma.jpgSod House Museum – Aline, Oklahoma

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a pioneer in the days when those brave enough to venture into the new land to the west you may have not given any thought to what it was like to actually live there.  What were the conditions?  What type of house did they have?  Was it as romantic as the movies have made it appear to be?

The first answer is that living conditions were extremely difficult.  First, there were no stores to run to for milk or eggs.  Those things had to be produced on the farm.  There was no air conditioning, running water, indoor toilet, natural gas stoves or electric lights.  Everything that we, as “modern” citizens take for granted was missing for those that lived in that time.

The first thing they had to do was to provide a shelter, home, for themselves and their families.  Since there was a scarcity of trees, and importing lumber very expensive, they turned to the very land they walked on.  Having seen how the Indians used the sod to create a home they followed suit and soon were building their homes out of sod blocks.  This led to the settlers sometimes being referred to as “sodbusters.”

It required an acre of land broken into blocks to build their one room homes.  It was hard work that took a long time to do since each block had to be cut with a spade. The best sod was comprised of that which was densely packed with the roots of the grasses such as buffalo grass, big and little blue stem, wiregrass, prairie cord grass, Indian grass, and wheat grass.  This difficult work was helped along in the mid 1880′s when a plow was invented that improved the process by “breaking” or “grasshopper” with the new plow which cut the sod into strips one foot wide and 4 inches thick.

Usually the sod slabs were one foot wide and two to three feet long.  The sod was laid with the grass side down toward the inside of the house.  With the bricks placed alternately lengthwise and crosswise it increased the strength of the wall.  If you wanted a window you had to make a wood frame with wood pegs driven into the sod wall.  Roofs were made of thatch, or sod help up by poles.  Common materials used for roofs were poles of cedar or cottonwood, rafters of willow, cedar, or other wood, brush from wild plum and chokecherry, prairie grass atop the brush and sod over the prairie grass.

Now, this may have seemed like a really awful way to live (and it wasn’t the most comfortable by any means) but it did have some advantages.  It provided excellent insulation to keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  It also served as an effective haven during prairie wild fires since it wouldn’t burn.  Often times the settlers would bring their livestock into the sod house during these fires to keep them safe, after all, they were the lively hood they depended on for food and milk.

I bet you have often thought that a canopy bed was the most charming type of bed to have.  Did you realize that they were created to keep the bugs that fell from the ceilings off you while you slept?  There was often a canopy put over the cooking area too to prevent the snakes, bugs and mice out of the cooking area as well as to help keep the mud off the food and cooking surface when it was raining and the mud was running in from the ceiling.

Come and visit the Sod House Museum in Aline, west of Enid to see what it was really like.  Here it will show you a sod house built in 1894 by Marshal McCully. The sod house was used by the McCully family from 1894 to 1909 when they built a large, two-story frame house but continued to use the sod house for storage until 1963!

The soddy remains in its original location with a metal building erected around the soddy to preserve it from the elements.  The sod house is open for walk through observations.

Admission:

$4.00 Adults

$2.00 Students (6-18)

Free 5 and under

Location: 1 mile east, 21/2 miles south of Aline on State Highway 8

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Phone: 405-463-2441

Comments

  1. Museums Online says:

    Thanks for the great write up for the sod house …

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