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Sod House Frames

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early twentieth century. Mile 195.3 and Mile 196.6 Dalton Hwy.

Close to the highway are remains of two sod houses associated with Natives in the area. At Mile 195.3, on the west side of the road, is the pole frame constructed by “Arctic John” Etalook. The simple post-and-beam frame, 12 feet by 12 feet, had vertical poles with a 1-inch to 3-inch diameter nailed to it. Canvas was stretched on the outside, and sod piled against it. The roof was a shallow gable, covered with poles and sod, except for a portion around the stovepipe, which was covered with flattened fuel cans. The interior was covered with canvas or cardboard. One wall and part of the roof have collapsed, and most of the sod has washed away, but the construction is still evident.

At Mile 196.6, on the east side of the highway, is a shelter built by Florence Jonas. The log structure is unusual, being a modified A-frame. The 5-foot-by-12-foot structure was covered with canvas, with sod laid on top. Inside, a stove made from an oil drum and a bunk remain. Although the shelter has not been inhabited for some time, it remains remarkably intact.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Sod House Frames", [Fairbanks, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 250-250.

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