Thunder Butte

March 07, 2005

House of Sod

Thomas Crowley and his family arrived at Thunder Butte in 1913 without a great deal of money. Timber was scarce on the prairie and would have been costly to obtain in the nearest towns of Dupree or Faith. With few options other than living in an improvised tent, Thomas did what most other newcomers to the prairie did. He built a sod house for his family.

A "soddie" was typically constructed by cutting two foot long slabs of sod from the ground--a foot wide and four inches thick. The slabs were stacked to create two-foot wide walls. Branches or timbers would have been laid across the top of the walls with slabs of sod placed atop these to create a roof. Although a rudimentary dwelling by our standards today, sod houses provided a great deal of insulation against the heat of summer and the biting cold of winter.

Although no pictures remain (or were ever taken) of the Crowley sod home, the picture below gives a good sense of what the some sod homes nearby looked like, although one can see from the roof timbering and tarpaper that this was the home of a wealthier homesteader:

Mike Crowley Monday, March 07, 2005


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