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Once an agreeable plot of land was staked out, each Iowa pioneer faced the task of making it a fit place to live. For the first few months many families either lived out of their wagons or built crude shelters. The first priority was breaking prairie and planting crops. In the western part of the state, where forestland was scarce, some settlers built houses out of blocks of prairie sod. These sod houses were natural shelters against the raging blizzards and the rain and the sweltering summer sun. And there upkeep was practical. Leaks could easily be patched with soil and more sod.
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