Faked out in American Falls, Idaho

Chalmers and Borton elevator at American Falls, Idaho.

During one of my recent road trips, I came upon a beautiful concrete construction elevator in American Falls, Idaho.  It looked much like the stand-alone elevators built by Tillotson Construction of Omaha, with an added annex.  It is in full operation.  I explored the elevator complex from about 7:30 am, and stayed on site as workers reported for their 8:00 am shift.  It was a very handsome elevator in the early morning light.  In its details it looked like a Tillotson elevator, except for the rectilinear head house, which is not unknown for a Tillotson or Mayer Osborn built elevator, but would be unusual.

As the shift started, I stopped at the elevator office to ask about the builder.  The worker smiled and pointed out the brass plaque by the door.  It was built by our grandfathers’ arch rival company, the ubiquitous Chalmers and Borton based in Hutchinson, Kansas.  Gary Rich pointed out one time that it seemed that wherever he found a J.H. Tillotson or Mayer Osborn elevator out in Kansas or Colorado, hard beside it would stand a Chalmers and Borton annex.  The companies played hard ball and competed for every contract.  Dad said, when I asked if Grandpa’s Mayer Osborn Construction of Denver, Colorado ever worked with Chalmers and Borton,  that “oh, no, they were his biggest competitor.”

Greenwood Nebraska’s straight-up elevator by Tillotson Construction of Omaha.

The elevator at Greenwood, Nebraska, built by Tillotson Construction of Omaha, is very reminiscent in its style to the elevator in American Falls.  I guess form followed function, and each company offered a product similar in its details–often the deciding factor was the bid price.  This Chalmers and Borton elevator certainly faked me out.  But it stands as a beautiful example and deserves notice.

6 comments on “Faked out in American Falls, Idaho

  1. John Flatley says:

    I’m trying to find out who built the concrete elevator at 2600 4th Street in Council Bluffs, Iowa and the year of construction. Any chance you could head me in the right direction to find this information. By the way I really like your site. Thanks

    • kocart says:

      I checked the on-line Newspaper Archive, and there is an article about a construction accident in 1948. The employee who was injured was an employee of the Summer and Solitz Construction Company of Chicago. The paper is the Council Bluffs Iowa Nonpareil, of April 10, 1948, and the elevator was located at 2600 4th Street. I will see if I can find more information, but this seems to be a pretty good lead. The elevator was said to belong to Archer Daniels Midland Company.

    • kocart says:

      I have been able to confirm that Summer S. Sollitt and Company of Chicago was the builder of the elevator at 2600 4th St., Council Bluffs Iowa, and that the elevator was built on Burlington Railroad property. Inland Construction Company of Omaha was subcontracted to build the car dumper and conveyor pits for the elevator. It was built in 1948. The Council Bluffs Iowa Nonpareil, of October 23, 1948, p. 11, contains a news item reporting that Inland Construction had sued Summer S. Sollitt and Company and Burlington for materials and labor costs it alleged were not paid.

  2. linda busen says:

    Can anyone tell me which elevatot in Fremont NE was built by Johnson in 1955?

  3. […] Construction in Greenwood, Neb., but without the curved headhouse. But it also recalls several Chalmers and Borton […]

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