Building a Pit House
at the National
BLM-Alaska’s archaeologist Robert King was part of a BLM cultural team that created a replica of a 1,200-year-old “pit house.” The pit house was similar to those found in Colorado at the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. The 15-foot diameter pit house was one of the BLM’s interactive exhibits at the National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. The
July 26-Aug. 4 Jamboree coincided with the 100th Anniversary
of the Boy Scouts of America.
After a year of planning, the BLM cultural team constructed the basic pit house frame and clay mud roof before the event. The work involved cutting 40-50 large trees and hundreds of saplings for the wooden frame. Scouts lashed the saplings onto the structure to hold the exterior mud coating.
They applied mud to the walls and entryway. By the time the Jamboree ended, an estimated 6,500 Scouts and leaders visited or participated in the construction of the pit house. At the conclusion of the Jamboree, the pit house was dismantled and land reclaimed in one day.