Grain Elevators in the 20s and 30s?

Jim Betz


I don't know where else would be a better place to post this question ...

I just this week received some new Photo CDs and one of them is of GN - Depots.
There are a -lot- (not just a few) images that were taken in the early part of the
century (probably 1920, perhaps teens, unlikely to be later than 1935) and they
are of "lonely places out on the prairies" where there are grain elevators.
That's no surprise. What is a surprise to me is to find so many images
where there wasn't just one or two elevators but rather 4, 5, 6 and even
more. And where there was little else anywhere near - a small station but
no "town". And they are BIG structures, always of wood, and with more
than one company in evidence where ever I could read more than one

I'm hoping to get "edumacated" by someone with more experience in
Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Eastern Montana ... and
a little bit of Wisconsin and Manitoba.

My questions/wonderings are:

1) I've never understood that the grain elevators were that early.
These are definitely in the horse and wagon era.

2) Due to the size - and number - of the elevators at these locations
they had to be storing a LOT of grain. I'm surprised that there
was so much grain to store (see above comments about what
states we are talking about. But, in support of the need is the
fact that the land around them is "dead flat" and with no patches
of hills/forests in evidence.

3) The stations almost appear to be more of "some place for the
local freight agent to work" ... than for passengers. They do
have a platform and a train order board but there aren't people
around them waiting for a train. Nor are their vehicles/wagons/
buggies. But they are -clearly- not abandoned and the elevators
are clearly in use.

4) So were they already doing the "store the harvest in the elevator
and then sell and ship it thru the rest of the year" thing that
early? Sure looks like the probable explanation.

5) I've seen lots of pictures of prairie towns with an elevator before.
What I found curious/interesting about these pictures is that it
almost seems like the elevators (and stations) were built first
and the towns "grew up around them" later.


If you haven't seen any of them - I am very happy with my
purchases of Photo CDs from PrairieWorks. I got them on eBay.
You pretty much have to be a fan of the Northern tier of states
from Minnesota to Washington to "need" them.
- Jim B.

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