Nebraska Sod House

The Nebraska Sod House, essentially a concession building, was located between the Six Nations Exhibit and the Forestry Building. It was a re-creation of the Great Plains shelter created by pioneers from around 1850 -1890. No details are available about the extent to which the Exposition's 'sod' house was made of actual sod. We should not think of this building as the official Nebraska state building at the Exposition.

Mrs.L. Bowser, a homesteader and entrepreneur from Newport, Nebraska, had first constructed a sod house at the 1898 Omaha Exposition. She sold food from the sod house there and obtained a concession to do the same at Buffalo in 1901. In an article in the McCook Tribune (Nebraska) December 27, 1901, she said,

"I have been at a loss frequently to explain why eastern people are so much interested in sod houses. I know why I have such a love for a home of Nebraska turf, but the hundreds of thousands of people who visited the Buffalo exposition seemed to be interested in my little house, tucked away in a space so small it could hardly be seen. The size of my entire space was thirty-seven feet by seventy-five feet and the building covered almost every inch of it. It was all the room I could get.

"In that little house thirty-seven Nebraska men and women were employed during the entire summer and at times my employees numbers as high as eighty-six. Some idea of the great amount of Nebraska creamed chicken we sol can be gained from the fact that I paid nearly $20,000 for the chickens we used. Some days we used forty dozens of chickens. Coffee was bought by us at the rate of 1,000 pounds a week. It wa snothing uncommon to use 150 pounds of coffee per day. Two Omaha men were kept busy making coffee all the time during the exposition and sometimes there were as many as fourteen people drawing and serivng coffee.

"There was nothing to be had in my house but the plain cooking that might be found in any Nebraska home. Creamed chicken, ginger bread, baked beans, brown bread and coffee were all that we served. At times the crowds were so dense in our little sod house that it seemed as though people must be trampled under foot. When I went to Buffalo I told Mr. Buchanan that it was my ambition to serve the best coffee on the grounds and to run my receipts up to $1,000 a day. I accomplished both and have only pleasant recollections of the Pan-American."

The building was often mentioned as the popular destination for an excellent thirty-cent [$6.13]meal consisting of "fricaseed chicken, coffee, bread and butter." This seemed like a good deal because most meals on the grounds were fifty cents and up, but the Exposition's Medical Department found the Nebraska Sod House in violation of health standards to such an extant that it was finally shut down in August, nearly three months before the Exposition closed.


Note: Blogger Genevieve Netz from Kentucky found the above-quoted newspaper article.