Minnesotan Creates Sod House

Using techniques of his ancestors, Stan McCone builds with sod.
By Wanda Parker
May 2009
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COMFY DIGS: Stan McCone’s work reveals that the humble sod house could transform into some quite welcoming quarters with the addition of a few furnishings.
Wanda Parker

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The photographs accompanying this story (and illustrating our article about the pioneers' sod houses on the American prairie) show the work of Stan McCone, of Sanborn, Minn., who built his first sod home in 1987, laboring from July until late October.

McCone used techniques learned from books and the eye­witness accounts of his elders. Other sod projects followed as he completed an outhouse, a shed and a dugout-style home. Virgin prairie ground from a meadow a few miles away provided the bricks. To add to the site’s historical feel, 10 acres of prairie were restored with tall bluestem grass, wildflowers and Indian grass. Now, McCone and his wife, Virginia, open the site from April through October for daily walk-through tours.

McCone said his interest in sod homes took root when he was a youngster.

“As a child, my father told me stories about my great-grandfather’s South Dakota sod home,” he said. “I had the desire to re-create and preserve this piece of history.”

As an adult, a brochure for an original sod house in Colby, Kan., provided the start of his research on building his own.

If he had to do it all over again, he would. The attraction has shown visitors the difficult life once experienced in this part of the country.

'It has also allowed people to witness a part of history that is all but lost,' he said.

Learn more

You can find out more about the McCone sod house by paying a visit to www.Sodhouse.org. There you will find more details and photographs about the attraction, as well as helpful maps to the property and other interesting sites nearby.

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