Friday, May 1, 2009

How about a DIRT HOUSE? The "dirt" on...dirt

For all you non-believers out there who have read my book and just can't imagine that what I said was true—that you can build a house out of dirt and ONLY dirt, and that you don't always have to have footings—take a look at this...

Here I am standing in front of a 3-story, 35-foot tall building made entirely out of dirt. No stabilizer such as cement or emulsion was used, and there's no straw mixed into the mud. And guess what? It's built without ANY footings—none, nada. (Wonder how they snuck that one by the building inspector?)

Yeah, I'll admit it looks a little rough but consider this—it's around 700 years old and has stood for nearly 600 of those years completely out in the weather before we came along and decided we had better put a protective roof over it.

Here's another shot with someone standing nearby to give you some more perspective on just how big and tall this building really is.

This massive structure with its 3-foot thick walls is located just east of Casa Grande, Arizona and carries the same name "Casa Grande." Casa meaning house, and Grande meaning big or grand.

Following are more pictures and some images of a few of the information stations around the site. (Click on the images to enlarge the print.)

Here is a cut-away drawing so you can see how the floors were constructed. Some parts of the interior floors are still intact.

Below you see an example of the plastered walls. The finish was very smooth and is in really nice shape where it still exists. The beams and supporting rods in this picture were added as supports over 100 years ago.

How did those who built this amazing building come up with the perfect mixture of sand and clay (caliche) to make their adobe mud last so long? They didn't. They just used what happened to be right there. Caliche is made up almost entirely of clay. (So much for having to have the perfect mix of sand/clay/straw/stabilizer in order to have one of these buildings last.)

Here is one of many places in the walls where passers-by have scratched their names and initials long ago.

A blow up of one such name and date that someone carved in the wall in 1870, nearly 140 years ago.

Photos by Monica and Michael Van Hall

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