Collin Quiring, a 26-year-old reader of this blog who farms with his brother in Henderson, Nebr., made contact and offered to send some photos when he took a load of grain to the Aurora South elevator, which was built by Tillotson Construction Company in 1959.
Collin had first commented on one of Kristen’s posts.
“It’s funny that you drove through Hampton,” he wrote.
“I’ve been following this blog for a while now and started looking at all the manhole covers on elevators that I haul to, and sure enough there were a lot of Chalmers-Borton, Tillotson, and Mayer-Osborn elevators around.
Hampton has the manhole covers on the outside of the silos and they’re 10 feet or so off the ground, so I’ve been wondering who made it for a while now!
It looks like you just saw the one downtown elevator in Aurora though?
The other elevator is called Aurora South and is on the southwest edge of town. It used to be a Cargill elevator, but Aurora Coop purchased it.
I’m pretty sure that’s a Tillotson elevator, too.”
So Collin did some more reconnoitering and took pictures on his next run.
“We’ve been alternating where we were taking corn, and I was planning to get back there for a few more pics.
But harvest will be over in an hour.
So I won’t be getting back there anytime soon.
Here’s what I did get while trying not to hold up the line.
End of this week or beginning of next I will be hauling to Hampton and will send you some from over there.”
Two days later, he made the run to Hampton but found it was not a Tillotson elevator; instead, it was built in 1959 by Grain Storage Construction Company, of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Commentary by Neil A. Lieb, photo from his archive
The concrete work is finished. You see those windows up there? The end of the headhouse is round because it’s hard to lay steel on a square corner. When you’re laying rebar, you have long straight sticks. Corners are hard to do. The is a Tillotson unique feature, as far as I know. It looks good because it matches the contours of the rest of the building. It was functional because the steel of the tank comes in about four pieces, and you lay them and they overlap. It was pretty exacting. You worked on your knees all night, up and down. You got the steel off the rack and you had to get down under neath and run it under all that stuff. And you did that over and over. The day that we were going to put the glass in the windows, those were steel-frame windows. There’s a little metal clip that holds the glass. You put the putty on the outside and you’re all done. The day we were doing that, the wind was blowing so hard, it was breaking the glass as we were put it in. We had to quit because of the danger of flying glass. They bought some different glass that was stronger, double-strength glass. It was just one of those things. All of a sudden, boom, this flying glass comes across the room at you.
Commentary by Neil A. Lieb, with photo from his archive
See the little cornice atop the tank? Those are forms for the cornice, the overhang. They call them eaves on a house.
The roof was poured before the headhouse went up.
That crane is a concrete-hoisting crane.
The headhouse is quite an operation because you had to hoist the concrete up to the top of the tank. And then they had a deck crane, and you had to hoist it [the concrete] to the top.
Every job I worked on, they used a nail keg that had been filled with concrete as a counterbalance weight. When you went up and down on the cable to go to work, that’s what you stood on—two guys, one foot each. That’s all there was room for.
It didn’t take that long, about fifteen or twenty seconds.
The motor and cable were down on the ground.
The operator had a shed to keep him out of the rain and sun.