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Sod House AttractsTourists To Rural Town
An authentic sod house based on those put up during the historic sodbuster era of the late 1880's will soon be open to the public in Elbow, Sask.
  The 20 by 40-ft. structure, with 32-in. thick walls cut from native prairie sod, stands next to another sod building put up in 1967. It's part of the community's local museum which is a major attraction for tourists.
  The project brought together many volunteers who helped with the week-long project.
  The sod was cut in 16-in. widths, 4 to 6 in. deep, with a moldboard plow. Edgers and square mouthed shovels were used to cut it off into 32-in. lengths. Workers used a mini "stretcher" to lift the sod strips onto pallets. A front-end loader equipped with forks loads the pallets onto a wagon which hauls the sod into town.
  Row after row of sod blocks, one atop the other, were staggered like bricks for strength, grass side down. Cracks were filled with loose dirt. They set the door frame and windows into the sod walls as they went up. Log rafters support the wooden plank roof, which was first covered with rolled roofing material and then with a 4-in. layer of sod, grass side up.
  Furnishings include an old table, chesterfield, barrel churn, cook stove, wind-up record player, bed, and a wash stand with a marble top.
  "It takes people back in time to when the first European settlers arrived. We were amazed at how many people came by to see us build it," says Wankel, who's chairman of the community's museum board. "We had great cooperation from the community. It became a festive event, with food served, and reminded me of how people got together in the old-fashioned threshing days.
  "The first sod house we built was in pretty bad shape, so we decided to build another one. It's a super educational tool for schools. We had one 12-year-old boy who helped every day of the week. He said that now he'll know how to build the next one. That was thrilling to hear because it means our heritage will be passed on to the next generation.
  "The building itself is very authentic with no walled rooms inside and no shingled roof like you sometimes see on other sod houses. We did use a couple of modern day techniques in building it. We used old power poles instead of wooden slabs to form a base for the roof and laid rough 2 by 6 wooden planks over the poles. We also put in double pane windows instead of single pane ones like they would have had in the old days."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Wankel, Box 33, Elbow, Sask., Canada S0H 1J0 (ph 306 854-2040).

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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #1