Sod House Museum4628 State Highway 8
Aline, OK 73716-5629
Director: Renee Trindle
|Tue - Sat||9am to 5pm|
|Mon, Sun |
Due to staffing limitations we recommend calling in advance prior to planning a visit, since illness and other unexpected events occasionally result in an unplanned closing.
|Veterans & OHS Members||Free|
Use of drones over Oklahoma Historical Society property is not permitted without written approval of the facility director.
Sod House Museum
The Sod House Museum seeks to preserve Oklahoma’s only sod house and interpret the early-day lifestyles of a pioneer, from the establishment of the Cherokee Outlet of 1893 to 1920. The museum encloses the original sod house which is the key exhibit. Visitors can enjoy the experience of walking through the “soddy” and view exhibits, artifacts, photographs, and the homesteader’s root cellar in the museum area. The artifacts and exhibits portray the daily lifestyles of the pioneers.
When visiting the museum there is an additional building displaying horse-drawn equipment and period farm implements. The museum offers exhibits, tours, educational programs, and events.
Marshal McCully and the Sod House
At one time thousands of sod houses dotted the plains of North America. This two-room “soddy,” built by Marshal McCully in 1894, is the only one still standing in Oklahoma that was built by a homesteader. McCully took part in the largest of Oklahoma's land runs when the Cherokee Outlet opened for settlement at noon on September 16, 1893. McCully first lived in a one-room dugout, hollowed out of a ravine bank. He built the two-room sod house in August 1894 using blocks of the thick buffalo grass blanketing Oklahoma's prairies.
McCully hitched his team to an 18-inch sod plow and split the grass into long rows. Using a flat shovel, he chopped the rows into 18-inch lengths. He then laid the sod blocks like bricks to form the walls. To make the roof, McCully split poles from the few trees growing in the area and laid them across the top of the walls for rafters. Twelve inches of sod laid on the rafters completed the roof. Unlike many sod houses, McCully plastered the interior walls with alkali clay.
The McCully family lived in the sod house from 1894 until 1909, when they built a large, two-story frame house. They continued to use the soddy for storage until 1963. On December 31, 1963, exactly sixty years after McCully received patent to the land, the Oklahoma Historical Society acquired the sod home.
Although the soddy remains in its original location a cover structure now protects it from the elements. Visitors can experience the unique experience of walking through the furnished sod house to imagine what life was like for Oklahoma's early settlers.
Farming in Early-Day Oklahoma
A “Steel Beam Rod Breaking Plow” is on display in the museum. This plowed a 12 inch wide strip of sod four inches thick and the sod strips were then cut into sod blocks. It took one half-acre of sod to build the two-room sod house, a total of 96 tons. It has been estimated that in the United States and Canada there were some 1,000,000 sod buildings in use from 1903-1913.
Oklahoma farmers produced a wide variety of crops including corn, cotton, winter wheat, oats, milo, maize, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts, broomcorn, cowpeas, alfalfa, wild hay, and others. They also produced and sold poultry, eggs, cheese, butter, and garden/orchard products. The main crops by acreage and value, however, were corn, cotton, and winter wheat. An acre was the amount of land tillable by one man behind one ox in one day. Traditional acres were long and narrow due to the difficulty in turning the plough. One acre measures 40 rods long and 3 rods wide.
In the 1890s it would have taken Marshal McCully 40-50 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with a gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher, wagons, and horses. By 1987, it took only 3 hours of labor to produce 100 bushels (3 acres) of wheat with a tractor, 35-foot sweep disk, 30-foot drill, 25-foot self-propelled combine, and trucks; farming has come a long way.