Thompson, Iowa, elevator completed in 1950, torn down in early 1980s

Work Underway on Storage Elevator

Thompson – Work has been started on a 125,000 bushel storage elevator for the local co-operative elevator company by the Tillotson Construction company of Omaha, Nebr.

Mason City (Iowa) Globe-Gazette, June 20, 1950

Mason City Globe-Gazette, September 2, 1950

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Our call to the Farmers Cooperative elevator in Thompson, Iowa, while preparing this post resulted in a conversation with location manager Lyle Wirtjes, who said he started working at the elevator in 1969. By then, Mr. Wirtjes said, one silo had already “busted out.” After another such incident, a new elevator was constructed across the road and the Tillotson elevator was torn down sometime in the early 1980s.

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Kristen’s analysis:

This Thompson elevator should not have failed—look at Greenwood, still here after all these years. I would guess there were some corrupt people in the building trades pulling off a scam, and since so many projects were going at once, a few poorly done elevators slipped through. They all looked like carbon copies of one another, so unless soil, water table problems, or fire caused the break, crooked subcontractors could have caused it. Not an uncommon problem when the federal cash spigot is turned on full blast—everyone shows up to the party, whether good or not.  My speculation here.  Nineteen years is not much of a lifetime for an elevator, barring a fire.

3 comments on “Thompson, Iowa, elevator completed in 1950, torn down in early 1980s

  1. Paul Grage says:

    Kristen. You say 19 years. But if it was built in the 50’s and torn down in the eighties? That is a lot more years. There a lot of factors. I am not sure when they started using vibrators in the forms for air bubbles instead of hoe to get out the air but that may have contributed. Paint also contributed a lot to the demise of many elevators. That is whey they do not paint them anymore. It traps moisture and rots the cement.
    On a side note it is hard to find the email of the blog owner. I have more stories but I just wish I had his email or yours.

  2. kocart says:

    I will contact you directly at your email. We would be happy to correspond, and would love to share your stories.

    My reference to the nineteen years was from the time it was built until it started to fail in 1969, one bin having “busted out.” You are correct–the facility probably continued to use it until they finally tore it down in the 1980s, giving it a service life of thirty years or longer.

  3. […] was used for a number of Tillotson elevators, including Glidden, Sanborn, Gilmore City, and Thompson, Iowa; Greenwood and Fairfield, Neb.; and Montevideo, Minn. The construction of elevators using this plan […]

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