Story by Kristen Osborn Cart
Photo by Gary Rich
The elevator operators at Wauneta, Nebr., have done a remarkable job of retaining the blueprints and correspondence accumulated during the time the elevator complex was designed and built.
In virtually every other case we’ve investigated, blueprints were lost or unavailable, and the histories of the elevators were unknown. At Wauneta, we can track the history of their endeavor very easily.
We know from a newspaper item that the first, straight-up elevator at Wauneta was built by William Osborn, during his years with J. H. Tillotson, Contractor, of Denver, in 1945.
My dad knew that Grandpa built an elevator at Wauneta, so the story has been verified. A few years later, Wauneta obtained designs for an annex to be built by a winning bidder.
Among these designs were two blueprints, dated 1948 and 1949, which were done by Holmen and Mayer, and Mayer-Osborn, respectively. Apparently the first set of plans was not built and a second set was ordered, this time from the newly formed Mayer-Osborn Company.
Other builders also submitted plans. Instead of an annex, however, Wauneta eventually built a second elevator, likely as a money-saving move.
A third elevator was also built.
The first two elevators had access to a rail line, and when the third elevator was built by Mel Jarvis Construction of Salina, Kan., it had no rail access, so runs were built connecting it to the other elevators.
After his recent visit, Gary Rich confirms that Mayer-Osborn built the Co-Op office building, formerly a John Deere dealership, and also a boiler room just west of the dealership. The blueprints are still kept at the Co-Op.
According to Gary, who interviewed a member of the Co-Op board, “The Co-Op provided everything for the farmers. They had the elevator, the John Deere dealership, a grocery store, and a lumber yard. Plus, they had a fertilizer plant and gasoline dealership.”
Note: Follow the embedded link for William Osborn’s explanation of construction techniques used by Mayer-Osborn in nearby McCook, Nebr.