Thatching in North America

Thatched roofs; in Canada, The United States & Mexico. c1870-1930


The idea of coating roofs with a layer of thatch, has seemingly slipped from the collective memory, of most of the inhabitants in North America. With few having any idea of what thatching involves; especially in Canada and the United States. The craft being mainly confined nowadays, to a few reconstructed historic sites… Yet, as this page will hopefully show, thatching was widespread, until the early decades of the last century…

Canada…

Some Barns in Quebec/Granges au Québec...


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Quebec… c1910. This barn is still to be found, at La Malbaie; situated on the St Lawrence River. Although in French speaking Canada, the barn was probably built by a German settler, in 1812. The wooden, ridge cross poles, would support this theory. As these are still found, in his homeland and neighbouring Denmark..
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Quebec… in 1925. ”Thatched Roof Barn between Three Rivers & Montreal 1925”. A location on the northern shore of the St Lawrence River is likely. The wrap over ridge on this barn, is held with one line of fixings.

An Unfortunate Death, due to thatching…

14th October 1909 – London, Ontario – ‘An inquest has determined that William Parson, aged 67, an agricultural labourer died from the effects of running straw into his hand while thatching a stack. The primary cause of death was blood poisoning.’ Proof, in a sad way, of the craft of thatching being used in covering and protecting hay, wheat and a multitude of other items; in the days before cheap canvas and plastic sheeting; in Canada… R.I.P William.

The Hudson’s Bay Company…

Britain’s King Charles II, in 1670, granted a trading monopoly over the Hudson’s Bay drainage area. In its day the Hudson’s Bay Company became the world’s largest landowner, controlling around 40% of what became Canada… Following a merger with the North West Company in 1821, the monopoly was extended to cover the huge North-Western Territory.

And in setting up this vast fiefdom, the craft of thatching was utilised to give shelter, in more than a few trading posts, in some very remote northern locations…

The thatching method, widely employed in northern & western Canada, appears to have used mud or clay, to fix whole courses or small bundles of thatch onto the roof. With the upper course of thatch bedding into the clay, already spread over the top part, of the previous lower course. This method was also practiced in parts of Scotland; perhaps a link exists? Possibly, as a goodly number of Company men hailed from Scotland…

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Manitoba… in 1884. The Hudson’s Bay Company post, at Dog Head Point; on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg. The First Nation peoples of Canada, seemingly made use of bark, to cover most of their dwellings. And the left and centre buildings, in this image, seem covered thus. But the right hand roof appears to be thatched. Perhaps with rushes or reeds from the nearby lake…



Near Fort Alexander, further south on the same side of the lake, a Metis village was noted as having ‘nice thatched cottages’, in 1870…
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Fort McPherson… in 1913., Today a hamlet located in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories; 67°25’N. In 1840, the Hudson’s Bay Company established Fort McPherson, the first trading post north of the Arctic Circle… Seemingly the post was first built with imported timber; with thatch being used as roofing. This image depicts two traditional Company roofs, both possibly thatched; with the grasses, that the long summer days allow to grow. The far right hand roof being in a better state… A summer home of the local first nation people is in the foreground, formed of hides.






Touchwood Hills Post 1887… In what is now Saskatchewan. One of the few posts not built on a river and supplied by canoe… The main roof here is thatched, with the lower extention probably having a turf roof. The locals hereabouts were Metis. These people, the product of native and European parentage, were widely spread… In Summer they lived and hunted buffalo on the Great Plains, and ‘returned late in the fall to live in their thatched log houses on the Pembina River, of which the woods are full for 16 miles below St Joseph…’’
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Battleford, North West Territory, 1876…

The Department of the Interior commissioned a survey of Battleford, now in Saskatchewan; then in the North West Territory, in 1876. The survey notes several properties coated with thatch…

Richard Fuller, who seems to have been building the Canada Pacific Telegraph Line; had three ‘shanties….walls mudded and roof thatched’. These were used to house his workmen, in the winter of 1875-6. Estimated value $400.

The general store, 24×18 feet, was recently built and thatched, along with a ‘roughly built stable with hay roof’. Valued at $170.

Johnson and Fields’ ‘billiard saloon…. Sells tobacco etc. and ‘’temperance drinks’’; was slightly smaller than the general store and also thatched. Valued at $110.

The surveyor W.F. King stated that values of labour, materials etc. were difficult to estimate ‘in a new settlement so isolated as Battleford‘…

Mr King also noted houses ‘occupied by Indians’; all with ‘mud’ roofs. But in a survey of Manitoba Indian lands, taken in 1878, the surveyor notes how things have improved, for the inhabitants on the new reservations… ‘manifested by the appearance  and construction of his comfortable log cabin, neatly thatched with grass’. Whether this was a real improvement, over ‘the Indian in his nomadic state…. in his wigwam’, is a matter for debate…

The Red River Settlements…

In the Red River Valley, thatch seems to have been a popular roofing. The Red River Colony was a set up in 1811 by Thomas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, after a land grant of 120,000 square miles by The Hudson Bay Company… This mostly lay in what became Manitoba, with more land south of the 49th parallel; becoming part of The United States, in 1818.

In 1853, it was noted that houses hereabouts, with roofs of oak shingles, rarely lasted more than 12 to 15 years, due to the heat in summer, when the shingles ‘curl up like spoons…The generality of the people use straw thatched roofs, which are light, water tight and durable’

Other records state… ‘After the rains had washed most off the sod of the roof, the thatching process was resorted to, long, rank reeds being cut from nearby marshes and muddied on by the sticky clay so abundant in the Red River valley.’

John Lowe, Secretary of Acriculture, gave a glowing report of the three year old Mennonite settlements, on the east side of the Red River, in 1877. The ‘thrift and manifest prosperity’ he found included the erection of stout homes, seeing at least one woman thatching her roof…

Ukrainian Thatching; in Manitoba, Saskatchewan & Alberta…

Around 170,000 Ukrainians, mostly from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, emigrated to Canada between the 1890’s and the start of the First World War. Canada’s Minister of the Interior, wanted new agricultural immigrants, to populate the country’s prairies. Later stating… ‘’ I think that a stalwart peasant in a sheepskin coat, born to the soil, whose forefathers have been farmers for ten generations, with a stout wife and a half-dozen children, is good quality.’’ Many followed the Minister’s advice, bringing both their agricultural skills to feed themselves and a sound knowledge of the thatcher’s craft, to keep themselves warm and dry…

Although wood for roof shingles was available and used; quite a few homes were thatched, following the style found in their homeland. Before straw from their crops became available, the farmers used 'local sedges and slough grasses'. Then rye straw was widely used as a thatching material.

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Home from home… Stuartburn is still a mainly Ukrainian community, in southeastern Manitoba. It claims to be one of the first Ukrainian settlements in Western Canada. The first immigrants arriving in 1896. The above image shows a nearby farm, dating to around the time of the settler’s arrival. The three thatched roofs are perhaps coated with local, non cereal thatch. The wooden poles, on the ridge, are typical of those found in Eastern Europe and on other Ukrainian thatch hereabouts. Although details vary; perhaps reflecting the differing areas from which the immigrants hailed? Photo; copyright & courtesy, of Archives of Manitoba.
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Working… The above photos depict some hard working families, complete with the ‘stout wife’, so favoured by the Minister of the Interior… The left image is a gem, as it shows the interior of a thatched roof; possibly at Elk Point, located in east-central Alberta. The hip corners of the roof were formed, by bundles of material, being fanned out then stitched to the roof timbers. A large standard course of thatch would then be tied to each of the good sized horizontal poles; that the gents are standing on. The right hand image has one Joe Wacha and his wife, working on their house, in 1916. The straw thatch is clearly visible, if a little untidy… The photograph below dipicts some very tidy Manitoba thatching, in 1913. Left photo; copyright & courtesy, of Elk Point Historical Society. Right and lower images, copyright & courtesy, of Archives of Manitoba..


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Lipton, Saskatchewan… The image above, dates from the first decade of the twentieth century, depicting two generations of settlers, in front of their modest home. The thatch being totally functional… Not so the right hand roofs; which were at Kreuzburg in Manitoba; renamed Fraserwood during World War I, due to anti-German sentiments. Around the time this photo, of a well thatched house and barn were taken… Photos; copyright & courtesy of  Saskatchewan and Manitoba Archives
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John Gavinchuk, on the left, taking a break… in Hilliard central Alberta, in 1917. His thatch has the extra wind protection, provided by long poles extending from his roof’s ridge. As does the right hand thatched roof. This image was produced by the Canadian Pacific Railway; which with others opened up so much of Western Canada… Left Photo; copyright & courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta.
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End of an Era… The photo opposite, shows the advance of modernity and the rewards of hard work. A new, wood shingled house has replaced the old style home; of the first immigrants. And modern transport is now on hand… The craft of thatching held sway in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta; until a series of dry summers during the First World War. Then,”many thatched roofs were dismantled and recycled as feed. An immediate solution to re-roofing these homes was found in shingles.”

First Nation Thatching; in British Columbia…



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British Columbia… c1910. These two ladies, from the Cahaoiah First Nation; stand outside their thatched ‘Lodge’, on the coast of this vast province. The design of their stout cedarwood buildings was purely native. Often the home to more than one related family. Most seem to have been roofed with bark, but not this one…

For more information and images of Thatching in Canada, in earlier days, follow the green link...

Thatching in the Colonies of British North America

The United States…

The North Eastern States…

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Public thatch… Above and to the left, are 1870's images of ‘The Swiss Cottage’; an ornamental shelter, that once graced the 526 acres of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York. The thatch here is of a high standard, with a ‘rope top’ ridge; hinting that the thatchers may have hailed from either Ireland or Wales. This little building lasted until 1937, when it succumbed to fire. Below, is another shelter in another park. This time the 180 acre Garfield Park in Cleveland, Ohio. Both shelter and image date from around 1900; the building having a coat of some very basic thatching… It too has not come down to us.

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Above, a rarity… 'Muscoda, Wisconsin; 30th May 1908'. A proud farmer and his grandson, in front of the homestead. The main roofing is of shingles. But a small, roughly thatched roof, keeps this farmer’s buggy dry. It seems rural Americans hereabouts knew the craft but didn’t use it often.
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New England thatch… Possibly at Tyringham, Massachusetts. Again some basic thatching on this cottage, which looked fairly new, in c1925. This could all be the work of the English born artist, Sir Henry Hudson Kitson. Another of his creations still survives, covered with tarred shingles; but originally destined for a thatched roof…

The Mid Western States… The Grass House People…

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The remarkable thatched structures; above, opposite and below, were the traditional homes of several peoples, who inhabit the southern plains of the United States; mainly the Caddo and the Wichita. These 'Grass Houses' were noted by the Spanish explorer Coronado, in what is now southern Kansas, in 1541. And as the images show, a living thatching tradition lasted well into the last century. The buildings ranged between 20 and 60 feet (6 and 18 metres) in diameter… The upper grass house dates to around 1900; suituated at Anadarko in Oklahoma. The photo opposite shows smaller and more open structures…

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At the fair… A group of Wichita took part in the St Louis World Fair, held in Missouri in 1904. They were part of the ‘Indian Camp’; alongside other attractions, such as the Apache warrior Geronimo (still a prisoner of War)… As can be seen above, a grass house was featured. It was part of the Wichita’s religious practice, that men built a house structure; with only women being allowed to thatch it (Both sexes seem to be working here). Unseen, in the right hand image, are the female assistants inside; helping to tie on the thatching material… The fair was held to celebrate the centennial, of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. As this land annexation included Wichita territory; it is a matter of conjecture, if those in the ‘Indian Camp’ would have thought the event worthy of any sort of celebration…

In Kansas, 1850’s emigrants found large ‘Receiving Houses’; built to accommodate them as they settled. The ’Pioneer Boarding House’, in Lawrence, was built of turf walls and thatched with ‘prairie hay’… This thatch was almost certainly ‘Switchgrass’ (panicum virgatum), the thatching material of the native peoples hereabouts. This plant can grow up to 8 feet (2.5 metres) in length. Neighbouring Oklahoma also saw the construction of the Grass House. The image opposite shows one, again near Anadarko, in the late 1920’s.

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The Southern States… Seminole Chickees in Florida…

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Dressed up to the nines… These telling 1930’s images, above and below, depict the ‘Osceola Indian Village’; that lay at NW32nd & Canal Streets, in Miami. This was a tourist location and clearly shows the skill of the Seminole thatchers who roofed it; this was top rate work. The thatch, as ever in this state and the ones that surround it, consists of Palmetto, a type of palm tree, probably Sabal Mexicana; its Latin name hinting at its spread. These Seminole look peaceful enough; but some groups of this people, are the only Native Americans, never to have surrendered to, or signed a peace treaty with the US government. Their thatched ‘Chickees’, evolved during this long struggle. Being quick and easy to build and thatch; they could also be dismantled swiftly, when trouble threatened. Modern Seminole still have a strong thatching tradition.

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Non native thatching… The early settlers in Florida,often made use of the local Palmetto thatch. The above home lay at Sandford; the school opposite lay in ‘The Everglades’, at an unnamed location, both images date to c1900.

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Some thatch in Texas…

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On the Range… The image above, shows a thatched roof, at Barstow, in west Texas, around 1900. The thatching material looks to have been damaged by the wind; but has been cleverly laid just the same… Photo courtesy; DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Texas.







San Antonio… from c1910, these two photos opposite and below, depict thatched homes; in what was once the capital of this region. The right hand roofs consisting of a somewhat neater palmetto thatch…
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Along the Rio Grande… The upper photo is titled, ‘The Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas’. And shows a rather large building, neatly done. The right hand image, depicts a similar palmetto thatch at Brownsville, from around 1900

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Military Thatch c1890… At Fort Clark, famous as the former base of the ‘Seminole-Black Indian Scouts’. These were mainly descended from escaped slaves, who sought refuge with the various Seminole peoples of Florida. Later many found a home in slave-free Mexico. After two decades helping the Mexican Army with hostile Indians, they were invited across the border; to guide the US Army as scouts. Serving at Fort Clark from 1872 until 1914…
The scouts and their families lived some two miles south of the fort, in “The Camp”; mostly it seems under thatch. No doubt the scouts built their own homes, using local materials and thatching techniques... The Seminole thatching tradition being of little use hereabouts... (The thatch used being similar to that seen on the roof, behind the cowboys at Barstow.)


The right hand image depicts Sergeant Ben July, with members of his family. Their stout looking home is built and thatched in a purely local style. There were never a great number of these scouts, yet four won the Medal of Honor, the USA’s highest military accolade...
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Military thatch, near the Rio Grande… To expand slightly, on what the postcard briefly states… The burnt out building was used by soldiers of the 14th US Calvary, in a stout 3 hour defence, of the tiny settlement of Glenn Springs, in May 1916.
The 70 or so attackers, followers of the Mexican rebel Pancho Villa; in search of food and booty, finally hit on the idea of setting fire to the thatched roof… In the ensuing evacuation 3 soldiers and a civilian died. The roof was seemingly thatched with candelilla leaves. But the image shows at least part of the roof was coated with corrugated sheets…

The Western States… The Thatched Wikiup, in Arizona & Utah…

Wikiups were dome-shaped summer shelters or more permanent winter homes, built by many peoples of the Southwest and Great Basin regions. The name seemingly comes from Algonquian word wikiyap translated as dwelling, house… They were constructed in much the same way as the Grass Houses, found further east. Also being based on a set of poles; but on a smaller scale. Often, but not always thatched, with whatever suitable material was at hand.

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Utah Wikiups and Tipis… This outstanding image dates from 1889… And seemingly shows members of the Kanosh Band of Southern Paiute. Along with the numerous wickiups they lived in. The photo also shows 3 tipis. These cone shaped tents, are all too often thought to have housed all the indigenous people, of both the USA and Canada. As readers of this page must now be aware, this certainly was not the case… The lands of the Paiute lay some way from to the Great Plains, where tipis held sway; but they were also in use here it seems. There are several varieties of wikiup depicted; most would seem basic summer shelters, with a more substantial example behind the right hand tipi…

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Arizona wikiups… 1 & 2 The image above dates to around 1885 and is titled ‘Pima Indian Reservation’… This could be one of two sites, adjacent to the modern city of Phoenix; where the Pima have lived since the time of this photo. The right hand image is of ‘An Apache home’, no location given, but this wikiup could be fifty years younger… Both seem well thatched, if completed in slightly differing ways; with the Pima wikiup having some outside fixings.

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Arizona wikiups… 3. This one is well mapped… According to the postcard, it lay just to the east of Safford, which is still on Highway 90. The photograph was taken around in the same time as the upper right wikiup, the postcards being published by the same company. As US highways were numbered from 1925, this wikiup has to be later… Both seem to be thatched with Bear Grass (Xerophyllum tenax). Traditionally, among the Apache and several other peoples, all the thatching was carried out by women. This roadside wikiup has some sheeting to protect it from severe weather, in the past animal hides were often used. On the right, behind this wikiup lie another two, all are off the reservation; probably what is now the San Carlos Apache Reservation; now home to over 15,000 members of various bands of Apache…

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Arizona wikiups… 4. ‘On the White River Indian Reservation, somewhere between Springerville and Rice, Arizona. Taken on our trip home last summer.’ The back of this photo gives good details of the location, but no date… The dress of the two young men put this around the mid 1930’s. The wikiup very likely belonged to members of the White Mountain Apache, of the Fort Apache Reservation; based around Whiteriver. This lies near the San Carlos Reservation. The thatch appears to be of Yucca; with the adjacent building being constructed with Bear Grass. For the record, the gent on the left was one Roland Loewen, his companion Austin Riesen…

Near the Great Salt Lake…

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Shingles and Thatch… At Brigham, Box Elder County in Utah. A close look shows a very course reed thatch. No doubt this material came from the nearby Great Salt Lake; which still has vast reed beds… This image from around 1890, illustrates yet again that early settlers in the New World, were canny enough to make use of the roofing materials already in use, by the indigenous populations. Which very often consisted of thatch…

Californian Thatch…

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‘Tule Hut, Home of a Native, Lake Co. Cal.’… The title of this image, is from a postcard dated 1913. Lake County is in the northern central part of California. The ‘Tule’ mentioned, is the thatch used hereabouts and further afield. The term was borrowed from the Aztecs, by the Spanish, who used it in a similar fashion; to mean any suitable thatching material. The most commonly used, in this area, are the Common Tule (Schoenoplectus acutus) and California Bulrush (Schoenoplectus californicus). This area is home to the Pomo. A people who also built, along with their southern neighbours, the Yokuts, large oblong, thatched dwellings; using mainly tule reeds as a covering. An 1870 example housed six related families…

“The Mission of St. Carlos near Monterrey”… From “A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and Round the World” by Captain George Vancouver. This famous, British naval explorer, visited the mission in 1792. This print shows thatched parts to the mission (far left & right), no doubt coated with various Tule reeds. The print’s date is early for this page, but depicts what must have been a common sight, at the various missions set up along the Californian coast; well into the nineteenth century…

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Bakersfield… Located near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, on the Kern River. The area, once a marshy habitat for Tule reeds; was also found to have gold reserves, in 1851. Ending the tranquility of the indigenous Yokuts. After serious flooding, the settlement was refounded, in the early 1860’s; a Thomas Baker taking up residence in 1863. What is said to be his original home of 1866, is shown opposite. A look at the following 3 images, shows Mr Baker followed native thatching traditions very closely…

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Desert and coast… The three images above and below, show the homes of the Kumeyaay. They inhabit the south of California and Baja California in Mexico. The upper image was one of many, taken by the noted photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis, who published his work in 1913. It depicts a home in the Mojave Desert; Edward Curtis states that ‘Such houses as the one shown here are not of the primitive type, though they are constructed of the same materials’. That may so, but the Kumeyaay and their neighbours, were living in such dwellings decades before this; as the lower left hand print demonstrates. This was the ‘Indian rancheria of Jose Antonio Venado, at San Luis Rey Mission.. April 1865’…
'On the coast in San Diego County'... The lower right hand image, shows more of Edward Curtis’ work. Now it seems the Kumeyaay are building with adobe bricks, topped with a traditional thatch; of Tule reeds, with outside fixings, no doubt tied into place. More than adequate for a dry climate. And when used with walls made of the same material, earthquake proof…

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Los Angeles, on Route 66… The above postcard, dating to c1925, takes us into a more urban setting than most of the images so far seen. It’s title, gives a good location. On one of this future conurbation’s first highways; one which later became part of the famous Route 66. The right hand image is dated 1934, probably located in a nearby location.



The work is well done, by whom is not known. But very likely some locals, with a Spanish speaking heritage, or a Native American one… As these two groups seemingly made use of the craft of thatching, far longer than others...

For more information and images of thatching in The United States, in earlier days, follow the green link... Thatching in the Colonies of British North America



 
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Mexico…






‘A Quaint Mexican Home‘… That’s the title of this image, from around 1900. However, the type of dwelling shown here is often described in old images, as a ‘Jacal’; a corruption of the Spanish for hut. This derogatory term was apparently only applied to the homes of Mexicans; often along with those of a Spanish speaking/Mexican heritage, in the United States…

In truth these structures are the result, of the clever use of local thatching and building materials, often in a harsh hot climate. Built by people with limited resources, to usually create stout, weatherproof, well insulated homes…
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The North West Region…

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In the Hot Country’… a thatch, from the first decade of the last century. This home was likely located opposite California, as it too makes use of the ubiquitous Tule reeds, found in abundance in this area. The method of thatching is also similar, to that found further north. Being left layered, and in this case carefully stitched into place.

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Ciudad Juárez c1900… in the State of Chihuahua, just across the Rio Grande/Río Bravo del Norte river, from El Paso in Texas. The standard thatch looks thin, but perhaps this was not a problem, with less than 10 inches of rain a year… I think the cactus is there for show! The thatch also has, what looks like rough adobe tiles on the ridge. Something also seen in other areas.

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Pacific Thatch… at Mazatlán, on the coast, in the state of Sinaloa. This line of thatched dwellings may well be fishermen’s homes, in c1910. The thatch here has once more been left layered. These buildings probably lay on the outskirts of what was already a bustling port…

The North East…

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1920’s thatch… Mante, lies in the very south of the state of Tamaulipas. The thatched roof shown here is of palmetto, fixed both within and without. The walls are of the same material.

The North Central Region…

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‘Straw Cottages, Salamanca’… This image , from an article of 1892, depicts thatch probably at the Salamanca lying in the state of Guanajuato. The term ‘cottage’ hardly seems appropiate, these being very likely, homes for the poor and landless. The thatching looks sturdy enough though…

In and Around Mexico City…

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'A Village Near Mexico City’… In the 1900’s. Again the thatch here has been left layered, with the outside fixing, to each layer, being bent around each gable end. The thatching material, is perhaps of corn/maize stalks…

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Xochimilco… One of the mayoralities within Mexico City, since 1928; from which time these three photos were taken. This area is famous for its canals;  a popular weekend destination for the city’s inhabitants. As the jolly flower seller and waterside images demonstrate. All three photos show thatch completed in the same style, as the nearby village; in the upper section. That is layered thatch, tied on with outside fixings; these being bent around the gable ends. A simple and effective roof. The lower photo depicts a good number of these thatched homes, mixed in with more conventional buildings…

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The Eastern Region…

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Chapulhuacán… lies in the central eastern state of Hidalgo. The 1920’s thatching shown, is of a more standard type; with inside fixings, holding a good thickness of thatch…

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Steep thatch… in Veracruz. This elongated state, bordering the Gulf of Mexico, was home to some quite distinctive thatch. The upper image, from the 1880’s, depicts ‘a hut in a hot land’… The occupants are busy drying their maize harvest; this plant may well have also provided the thatch. The photo opposite is two decades younger. Showing a coffee plantation near Córdoba, in the centre of this state. The thatch seems to consist of palm leaves.

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More thatch in Veracruz… The photo opposite, from c1905 depicts more steep roofs of thatch. Apart from shedding rain quicker, and there is quite a lot hereabouts; the tall interior roofspace would contain any unwanted heat; and as mentioned above, this is a ‘hot land’… The far right of this image, shows the simple timber frame, that supports the thatch. Below, is another building from this state, from the same period, with a flatter pitch. The roof probably consisting of palm stalks…

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Into The South West…

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On the Isthmus of Tehuantepec… in the state of Oaxaca. This area is still home to a million or so Zapotec people; who are likely depicted here, in around 1900. The surrounding forest seems to have provided both thatch and the structure to fix it to… The thatching probably consisting of palm leaves; neatly finished… Parts of this area have a very heavy rainfall, others suffer from the periodic Tehuano wind. Which races across the isthmus, from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, often with a hurricane force. Thus the local thatching had to be well applied…

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'A Temporary Shelter’ c 1907… Mexico is no stranger to the destructive forces of an earthquake; with the south west suffering as badly as any area… The large thatched shelters, depicted above, may well have been used, by the displaced inhabitants of such an event… Newspaper reports of 17th April 1907, noted… ‘’Further earthquake convulsions were experienced in South America yesterday, two towns in close proximity in the State of Guerrero, in Mexico, being entirety destroyed. The towns which were shaken into ruins are Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero State…. and Chilnpa, a town of similar proportions….. Chilpancingo was badly wrecked by an earthquake in 1902…..’’ The story was two days old. The area was hit again two years later. The shelters on the far right of this image are typical of this region. The open sided version is today recreated on a myriad of local beaches, on a smaller scale; known as a ‘palapa’.

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Palapas... Here on the beach at Puerto Del Margues near Acapulco, in around 1930. These thatched structures named literally as 'of the palm leaf', are also found in Honduras and other Central American countries