View Full Version : For the Few of Us Who Love Grain Elevators

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Alex Hawley
06-11-2008, 11:01 PM
Came across this pdf file tonight from the Kansas State Historical Society. Nice little photographic essay on the Legacy of Country Elevators (http://www.kshs.org/publicat/history/2000springsummer_krupp.pdf).

06-11-2008, 11:21 PM

df cardwell
06-12-2008, 04:22 AM
shooting a grain elevator,
at sundown,
as the light is just narrow beam
skimming over the ground,
is as visceral a thrill as you can have.

Well, it is if you've got the 11x14 Deardorff filmed up and waiting...

06-12-2008, 05:02 AM
Nice article.

I grew up in a tiny hamlet of about 500 people (going back there in a month) and even we had a grain elevator. However, like many other small places, once the rail line got torn up the elevator was demolished. Even as a young teenager back then (this is over 20 years ago now) I thought it was a shame that they couldn't let such an iconic structure be. However, I think it had more to do with fire and safety hazards, rather than competition, that saw the end of the elevator. Whenever I travel back to the Prairies I always look out for them, but there aren't many left, especially in Manitoba (Saskatchewan is another story).

Joe Lipka
06-12-2008, 06:22 AM
Grain elevators? I thought this was going to be a thread on developers. What a disappointment.

Grain elevators in the last two issues of LensWork, too. Who says there is nothing to photograph in the American Midwest?

06-12-2008, 06:43 AM
Count me as one of the aficionados. Ours are no longer functioning as we have become so urban.

Perhaps, Joe Lipka really mean the grain elevators: whiskey, scotch, beer, etc. Still I like the down home, farm-related kind.

06-12-2008, 08:05 AM
there are a lot of them listed here:


Alex Hawley
06-12-2008, 08:11 AM
Good link John. Thanks!

07-22-2008, 09:08 PM
I miss them, southern Missouri doesn't seem to have to many elevators.


07-22-2008, 09:14 PM
Now WHO doesn't appreciate a good grain elevator?

A lone cyclone windmill over a watering hole is fine too...

Brings back nice memories; orange dust like talc, sweat crusted on the brim of your hat, the stillness that sucks the air out of your lungs with furnace-like heat, the sweet taste of mossy water in the livestock tank...

miss it.

Dan Henderson
07-23-2008, 05:16 AM
I grew up in a small town in Indiana. One of my friends father owned the local grain elevator, and we spent many hours playing in and around the structure. Occasionally, someone would take us up to the top in the old, rope-operated cage lift. As I write this I can still see the glass-smooth wood polished from years of grain dust.

Jim Chinn
07-23-2008, 08:16 AM
Thanks for the link. Growing up on the great plains and traveling with my dad on business calls to farmers around the state during the summer as a kid I grew to appreciate these monuments to American agriculture and small town commerce. I still find myself on travels seeing an elevator or silo complex in the distance and wanting to drive over and take a closer look and document it on film.

01-25-2011, 12:05 AM
Where I live (in Oz), we have -mostly made of cast concrete, but others of welded steel plate- "Silos" (Grain Elevators to you) with two or or more (up to six, sometimes even more) cells in almost every small whistle-stop dotted throughout the country.

They used to be owned by local operators or co-operatives, but recently they have been bought up by some Canadian giant grain handler Conglomerate.

What happened this grain season was a bumper crop. Previous operators would work around the clock to get the harvest under cover.

The current owners (Canadian Conglomerate), possibly not wanting to pay their guys overtime, worked only "office hours", so wasting the farmers' and truckers' time and the opportunity to get the harvest in before a change in the weather spoiled it.

Lots of unhappy customers as a result.

01-25-2011, 11:47 AM

This is weird.... here is a picture not taken by me of the grain elevator that my grandpa used to run, own and operate. You'll see my post...

Jeff Kubach
01-25-2011, 12:04 PM
I just love those grain elevators!


01-25-2011, 06:27 PM
Is Alex posting at all these days? I miss his posts and pictures.


Poisson Du Jour
01-25-2011, 06:40 PM
This thread has me head-scratching for a few moments; I'd never heard of the term "grain elevator" until Galah correlated with the Australian term of "Silo"!! "Ah, that's better!". :p:p

Yes, I photographed them many years ago travelling around on my bike, laden with cameras, lenses, notes and enthusiasm, out wide into the country often far from where I lived at the time, watching long grain trains unload at isolated silos — mere shimmering specks in what is often called "Big Sky Country", far from the nearest big town (but often too, central focal points that hint of a town's prosperity). These occasionally ugly contraptions on the countryside are nevertheless entrenched in the mechanisations of country life and what goes in them comes out — as cereal, rice and other staples for the kitchen table.

01-25-2011, 06:48 PM
Is the flooding in grain country?


Poisson Du Jour
01-26-2011, 12:16 AM
Is the flooding in grain country?


Yes. All of it. Australia's GDP will take a sizeable hit from the loss of grain crops all food crops in general. I am personally aware of huge losses around Kerang in NW Victoria which was flooded first in September then again this month, giving no time for farmers to repatriate marginal crops. Grain crops are now 97% wiped out. We reckon many farmers having first endured 16 years of drought, then floods of biblical proportions, will just walk off the land now; the loss would be too great for many to stand up to.

This enduring verse by Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar (she was blind) sums it up:
Link to 'My Country' (http://www.dorotheamackellar.com.au/archive/mycountry.htm)

01-26-2011, 04:59 PM
Not all of Oz was affected by floods, the Western end had bushfires. We, in the middle, had a "dampish" summer which did spoil some of the crop due to mildew and flattening, but it would have been -and for some still was- a bumper crop for all.