After delay, Tillotson completes 101,000-bushel elevator at Wapello, Iowa

Wapello, Ia—The Wapello Elevator and Exchange has let contract for an all-concrete storage addition to its main building to the Tillotson Construction Co., Omaha. Work will begin this week and is to be finished in 60 days.

The Democrat and Leader, Davenport, Iowa, July 31, 1949

The Wapello elevator, by Sam Willson. The flag and ribbon were added during the Persian Gulf War.

New Grain Storage Structure at Wapello—

Here is the new $80,000 grain storage structure of the Farmers elevator at Wapello, which will be completed next week by the Tillotson Construction Co., Omaha, Neb. The structure is 135 feet in height with ground measurement of 24 by 40 feet, and has seven bins with total storage capacity of 101,000 bushels. The four corner bins are of 20,000 bushels capacity each and three inside or overhead bins each have 7,000 bushel capacity. Inlet and outlet pipes extend to the structure from the main elevator building shown in the photo, and the mechanism was operated for the first time Monday in a test run. Construction was started Sept. 1, but delays have extended the time of completion until some time next week. The new structure gives the elevator company a total storage capacity of 135,000 bushels of grain.

The Democrat and Leader, Davenport, Iowa, Dec. 8, 1949

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Editor’s note: We found an image of the Wapello elevator on a site called Tankwagon Express.

January 7, 2012

Hiya Tankwagon,

A partner and I are doing a blog about the grain elevators that our grandfathers built, and I believe that my own granddad’s Tillotson Construction Company, of Omaha, built the elevator at Wapello. We have a newspaper article that says it was being completed in 1949.

Can you supply any info? Also, could we use the photo that’s on your site?

Many thanks,

Ronald Ahrens

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January 8, 2012


Feel free to go ahead and use the picture. I can’t verify if that is a Tillotson elevator, but the date of 1949 is probably correct. Is there a place where they may have left a mark or identifier on the structure? Prior to that date, a large wooden square elevator stood in the approximate vicinity. It like most wooden elevators caught fire and burned sometime in the 1940s. Replacing it was a smaller wood structure tied to the feed mill, and the slip form. The wooden mill in the picture burned to the ground in the fall of 1994. While the concrete structure is still standing, it has not been in use since maybe 2001-2002. At that time, I worked there and we had some issues with the headhouse and confined spaces with the insurance company. It still stands unused. The entire facility has capacity for about 3 million bushels of grain more or less.  Since I left the company in 2005 my access to information on the building is not as readily available. But I will see what I can find for you.

Sam Willson

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