Top 25 things vanishing from America: #25 -- Pit toilets


This series explores aspects of America that may soon be just a memory -- some to be missed, some gladly left behind. From the least impactful to the most, here are 25 bits of vanishing America.

By the 2000 Census the number of Americans who lacked indoor plumbing was down to 0.6%. Still, that's an awful lot of Americans still using an outhouse or pit toilet--670,000 households or 1.3 million people. But it's a huge improvement from 1950 when 27% of households--and over half of rural households--didn't have complete indoor plumbing.

By the standards of 50 or 100 years ago, we are all living much more comfortably. We can thank a major push to build rural infrastructure--and the fact that so many of us are living closer together in cities and suburbs, so it's easier to install water lines. Those that do lack indoor plumbing are the least fortunate--often poor, elderly, rural and isolated. But, as USAToday pointed out, the cheapest housing is often trailers and those at least come with a toilet.

I don't know anyone who is nostalgic for the outhouse. Of course the internet is the home for all peculiar tastes, so there is the Outhouse Preservation Society. And there is a bit of a craze for composting toilets. But most of us can see all we need to of an outdoor toilet at a national or state park.

Read the entire series