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By Dan Beard

The Eskimo uses a bone-bladed knife to cut the snow into blocks with which he builds his winter home; but our snow is seldom, if ever, hard and compact enough to admit of this treatment and we must find another way to handle it.

When the snow is damp, start with a small snowball and roll it until it has increased to the size you wish. During the process of rolling the ball, it must be frequently turned on its base, so that it will be round and solid and not a loose, oblong cylinder like roll of cotton batting.

Make a number of these snowballs and pile them up into a heap the form of a haystack; pound and hammer the balls together, filling up all the cracks and crevices with broken pieces packed tightly in place.

After the Snowballs Have Been Welded

together into a compact mass of snow, take shovels and scrapers made of thin boards or shingles and scrape the surface of your snow mound until it is smooth, symmetrical and of the form of half an egg.

Next, Cut a Number of Sticks;

make them each exactly 2 feet in length and, after pointing one end of every stick, drive them all into the snow mound until heads are even or flush with the surface of the snow. The sticks should be distributed over the mound at regular intervals so that the pointed inside ends may guide you while hollowing out the interior of your house and prevent you from making the walls of unequal thickness. You can now cut a doorway just big enough to allow you to creep in on all fours.

When Excavating the Inside

watch for the pointed ends of the measuring pegs, and do not dig beyond them; the walls of the igloo must be at least two feet thick to prevent the structure from crumbling down upon the heads of the Eskimos inside, and also that it may withstand any ordinary thaw without disintegrating. If

The Site Chosen for the Igloo

be in a shady place the snow house will last longer than when exposed to the direct ray of the winter's sun, but even in the sun a well-made snow house of this description will ofttimes remain intact long after the surrounding snow has disappeared.

After Building an Igloo,

As described above, if you are still ambitious to do more in this line, Fig. 443 shows the ground plan for a commodious Eskimo apartment house, and Fig. 444 shows a diagram of the outside of this compound igloo.

Although the illustration shows this snow house with the division lines as if built of snow blocks, it is nevertheless to be built of solid snow and hollowed out as already described, but to make it appear like the real thing, the snow blocks can be imitated by lines drawn with the pointed end of a measuring peg.

The window is made of a piece of ice set in the snow at the opening cut for that purpose.

To build this house, make the "den," or big igloo, first, as already described; from the waste snow build the little igloo marked "storeroom," then add the one marked "parlor" and from the waste snow of the last build the pantry. Next add the kitchen and the low entrance. When this is accomplished you will have a duplicate of the first igloo occupied by that daring Arctic explorer, Dr. Hall.

The Doctor slept on a snow shelf in the part we call the "den," cooked over a whale-oil lamp in the room marked kitchen, and kept his frozen provisions in the storeroom, where they were safe from the wolfish dogs.

The great advantage of all these passages and rooms in a boy's snow house is the feasibility of sealing the doorway of the storeroom or even the den itself with snow, so that a stranger entering the house will never suspect the presence of these extra rooms, but will creep out again under the impression that he has explored the whole interior.

Neither will he discover his mistake unless he makes inside and outside measurements, and by this means finds a large, unaccounted for space; but vagrant boys do not use this much energy and are never scientific in their investigations. So the contents of the den and storeroom will lie comparatively safe.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.