Tracking down the builders of some Kansas and Colorado elevators

Photos by Gary Rich

We’re trying to track down the builders of elevators that stand in various places throughout Kansas and Colorado.

They could be Mayer-Osborn Company elevators.

Here are photos of elevators in Pritchett, Colo., above; Limon, Colo., center; and Coldwater, Kan., below.

Brandon, Colo., also has an elevator whose builder we haven’t identified. 

In Kansas, we have looked at elevators of unknown provenance in Bridgeport, Carlton, Coldwater, Lucas, and Peabody. Of these elevators, Bridgeport, Carlton, and Peabody are of the straight-up type.

From Salina, Bridgeport is due south while Carlton is to the southeast. Peabody is on U.S 50 northeast of Newton.

It seems likely that the elevators in these towns were built by Johnson-Sampson Construction Company, or companies that derived from it, because these towns are fairly close to Salina, where Johnson-Sampson was located.

There are elevators in a few places that were certainly built by Johnson-Sampson. These in Atlanta, Galatia, and Fowler are of the step-up type.

Although circumstances around the dissolution of Mayer-Osborn in 1955 aren’t precisely known, we think that after William Osborn left the business, Eugene Mayer, his partner, carried on under another name, and the signature Mayer-Osborn design scheme was used by Johnson-Sampson and perhaps others.

It’s official: Mayer-Osborn built Big Springs’ original concrete elevator

Story and Photos by Gary Rich

Who built the Big Springs elevator? The winner is Mayer-Osborn Company. The manhole covers have Mayer-Osborn on them. It was built in 1951.This structure is today called Elevator 1. A six-bin annex was added afterwards. I do not know who built it. There were no manhole covers.

Another annex was built by Mid States. They call this Elevator 2. It has its own leg. This annex has about sixteen bins.

Mid States also built the third annex, which has its own leg, too. There are two huge bins. 

I asked manager Larry McCroden about the primary crops raised around the area. The two biggest crops are corn and wheat. Secondary crops were sunflower seeds, for making sunflower oil, and millet. Some oats were grown, but there hasn’t been any oats tendered to the Co-Op for the past four years. Most years, corn was the number-one crop with wheat coming in second. I would say that there was about twenty percent more corn than wheat. One year was an exception. I believe it was 2008. Farmers delivered more wheat than corn that year.

The Big Springs Co-Op is independent–no other elevators in any towns. It says a lot that an independent Co-op can survive during without merging or being taken over.

Mayer-Osborn joins bidders on AEC sewage plant near Pocatello

Tolboe and Woolton Construction company, Provo, Utah, is apparent low bidder on a contract for the construction of two sanitary sewage disposal plants, the U.S. Atomic energy commission, Idaho operations office, announced thursday.

The company’s bid of $75,803 was apparently the lowest of 17 opened February 14 by the Idaho operations office’s contract board. J.O. Young and Son, Nampa, was second lowest bidder with a proposal of $77,908, followed by United Engineers, Inc., Ogden, Utah, at $83,798.

Other bidders were Brennan and Cahoon, Inc., Pocatello; Olson Construction company, Salt Lake City, Utah; Gibbons and Reed company, contractors, Salt Lake City; J.H. Wise and Son, Inc., Boise; Mayer-Osborn company, Denver; Haggerty-Messmer company, Bozeman, Mont.; Arrington Construction company, Inc., Idaho Falls; M.J. Brock and Sons, Los Angeles; Joe Lundberg Construction company, Seattle; Lee Hoffman, Portland, Ore.; Lovedahl and Sorenson, Idaho Falls; W.T. Grayson, contractor, Pocatello; Young and Smith Construction company, Salt Lake City; and C.H. Elle Construction company, Pocatello.

Work covered by the contract will include construction of Imhoff tanks, trickling filters, settling tanks, sludge drying bed, chlorination equipment and chambers, and necessary mechanical and electrical work. The plants will be installed at AEC’s reactor testing station near here.

Bids are now being analyzed, and the contract award is expected to be made within a few days.

Idaho State Journal, Feb. 15, 1951

In Chase County, we meet Gary State, an elevator construction veteran

By Gary Rich

Editor’s note: Gary is recently returned from a fact-finding foray in Nebraska.

I stopped at the Chase County courthouse in Imperial, Neb., looking for the dates when the elevators were built in Imperial, Enders, and Wauneta. They did not have much information about the build dates. The only info they have in their records is that the old office building for Frenchman Valley Co-op was done in 1946. The FVC built a new office across the street from the old one.

The ladies on the courthouse staff told me to stop in at the FVC office and talk with Gary State, who might have the dates. Mr. State went to work for Mid States building grain elevators and feed plants. I do not know if it was just Mid States or Mid States Construction. He was living in Imperial when he started working for them.

Map of Nebraska highlighting Chase County

I explained about Tillotson Construction Company, of Omaha, J.H. Tillotson, Contractor, of Denver, and Mayer-Osborn Company. He gave me some leads. He told me that Hugh O’Grady is still alive and lives in Omaha. Mid States was started by a man name Erickson. He had seven sons. Six of the sons ended up working for Mid States. One son died at a construction site. He said Jack Russell was a superintendent. He thought that he was living in Seward, Neb.

Mr. State built the second annex, or elevator number two, at Big Springs, and then elevator number three.

He told me that he built the Woolstock, and Goldfield, Iowa, elevators; the feed plant at Fruita, Colo.; and elevators at Garrison and nearby David City, Neb. At the other end of the Cornhusker State, he built the west elevator in Imperial. After the west elevator was finished, he left Mid States and he went to work for the Co-op. This is the reason that he is working for FVC.

♦ ♦ ♦

Okay, here is another thing. I thought that when a construction company built an elevator that they did everything. This is not true. Mr. State told me about a company based at York, Neb. This company did all the belts inside the elevators, all around Nebraska, no matter who the builder was. So we know the belts were installed by a separate company. Now I am wondering if a separate company was onsite to install the leg as they built the elevator up. Or did the general contractor install the leg?

Mayer-Osborn’s new elevator will tower over the Burlington tracks at Roggen

Photos by Gary Rich

Excavation will start Monday morning on a strictly modern 250,000 bushel grain storage plant at Roggen to be constructed for the Farmers Grain & Bean association, a farmers cooperative. The association stores and markets at Roggen the grain grown by hundreds of southeastern Weld county wheat growers.

The new building will tower 160 feet in the air and architects’ drawings show that its beauty will equal its great utility. Mayer Osborn company of Denver has the general contract for the elevator.

Site is 50 feet east of the present 80,000 bushel elevator of the association. Both elevators are served by the main line of the Burlington railroad.

Construction will be of concrete and steel of multiple slip design. Capacity can be enlarged indefinitely from year to year as need arises.

Marvin Jones, manager of the Farmers Grain & Bean association, said Friday night that the company is also building a similar but smaller structure at Byers on the Denver Kansas City line of the Union Pacific east of Denver. Byers elevator will hold 150,000 bushels.

Jones said that the new elevator will be ready for use by the time the 1950 harvest starts. He said the wheat crop in the Roggen, Kiowa and Prospect districts is looking fine. He said there had been very little damage from wind and that this was confined to the sandier soils of the district.

Present elevator of the association at Roggen will be kept in use giving the association 880,000 bushel storage at Roggen. Allowing 1500 bushels to a carload this is the equivalent of 220 carloads capacity.

The Greeley (Colo.) Daily Tribune, April 6, 1950