The Prairie Homestead was one of my favorite places on the whole trip and is the original sod home of Mr. & Mrs. Ed Brown built in 1909. It is typical of the homes and outbuildings that pioneers built and is one of the last remaining original sod homes intact today. These pioneers played a very important part in settling the Great Plains and the kids and I learned all about them. Go inside the home and you will see mud walls covered with paper. As you drive out on the prairie you will notice very few trees as far as your eyes can see only tall grass which is pretty crazy when you stop to think about it. Lumber was an expensive commodity because it needed to be brought in from the great lakes area so it was used sparingly. At the Homestead it was just used for the frame and roof, and siding on the exterior. I asked the kids if they could imagine themselves living in this house, how would they keep warm in the brutally cold Dakota winter? Everyone agreed it was rough living, but people made due to get the free land the government was giving away if they agreed to be a homesteader, meaning they had to stay put and work the land for 5 years. We have so many conveniences today, and we definitely take them for granted. I often wonder if our generation would have the grit to survive those rough conditions. Seeing the prairie homestead gave me a new appreciation for those pioneers who braved the harsh conditions to carve a new life out for themselves and their children.
Be especially careful not to fall into the holes dug by the prairie dogs you’ll see popping up all over the property. When we exited through the gift shop Joel had to have this little stuffed prairie dog. Our lovely traveling companion Avrille was kind enough to buy it for him and he kept it with him the whole rest of the trip. I don’t know what happened to it, At this writing Joel is now14. For the life of me I wish I could remember what he named it. I have a feeling I’ll probably find it stuck in a drawer somewhere when he leaves for college.