Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
HOMES ON THE PRAIRIE

HOME
FILM AND MORE
HOMES ON THE PRAIRIE
LITERARY CONNECTION
VIRTUAL FARMHOUSE
A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
RESOURCES

The Prairie Early Settlement The Great Wave Who Came What They Farmed, Dreamed
Trees to the Prairie The Balloon Frame The L Wheat Boom, Bust Death of the Dream

Trees to the Prairie

Sod House

Logging

The homes they built reflected their modesty. Some of the earliest pioneers to the treeless prairie built houses out of the building blocks most readily available to them, meaning the sod they farmed on. These grass abodes were cool in summer, and kept the wind out in the cold winter; but snakes and mice liked the atmosphere, too, and the ceilings tended to cave in when wet. Curb appeal was non-existent.

Just as the wheat farms were beginning to boom on the prairie, the great white pine forests of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota were being sawed at a frantic rate. Logs were being shipped via the Great Lakes and the rivers of the upper Midwest to sawmills in Chicago, Dubuque, and St. Louis. There they became lumber and were sent on the expanding railway system to the prairie to become houses.

The boundary of grassland and woods was erased in a generation as industrial America set to work and attacked the midwestern landscape on a mega-scale. In the words of lumber-industry journal in 1873, "We cannot but imagine the valley of the Mississippi a huge farm with a small grove in the northeast corner."

NEXT: The Balloon Frame


---
HOME FILM AND MORE HOMES ON THE PRAIRIE LITERARY CONNECTION VIRTUAL FARMHOUSE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE RESOURCES
Death of the Dream