Minnesotan Creates Sod House

Using techniques of his ancestors, Stan McCone builds with sod.

| May 2009

  • Sod-House-Plow
    USEFUL TOOL: Plows like this one cut the sod for the houses that once dotted the American prairie. Stan McCone, of Sanborn, Minn., adopted the techniques of the pioneers to create his own re-creation of the rustic dwellings.
    Wanda Parker
  • Sod_House_interior
    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
  • McCone_Sod_House
    WALLS OF SOD: The sod house Stan McCone built has walls made of “Nebraska Marble” – sod brick, that is.
    Wanda Parker

  • Sod-House-Plow
  • Sod_House_interior
  • McCone_Sod_House

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.






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