In Wahoo, Nebr., Tillotson’s elevator finds new life as a cell tower for AT&T

The Wahoo, Nebraska elevator, built by the Tillotson Construction Company of Omaha, Nebraska

Story and photos by Kristen Cart

Another stop on my recent elevator trip was Wahoo, Nebraska. Dad tipped me off that it might be one of Tillotson’s projects. Wahoo is the seat of Saunders County, where Dad lives, and he frequently has occasion to stop there.

Wahoo’s elevator, at first glance, appeared unused. It was closed up tight, and the only indication of any activity was a sign warning workers to stay at least three feet away from any antenna, and to contact AT&T before performing any maintenance or repairs near their equipment.  Ah, hah!  Then I noticed the wires running to the top of the structure. I walked around the elevator, taking pictures.

Next door to the building was a Pet Rescue center, and as a woman was leaving there with a little dog in her arms, I asked her about the elevator.  While she did not know the builder, she said the elevator was privately owned by David Rood, and that at present, the elevator was full of corn.  But she commented that he probably made more money from the AT&T installation. I had heard of cell antennas being installed in every kind of tall building–even church steeples–but it had never occurred to me to look for them atop an elevator.

The next circuit around the elevator produced the answer I was looking for. Right there, adjacent to the sidewalk, in bright blue paint, was a manhole cover.

Some neighborhood teens were hanging around the street, in their cars, and when they saw me kneeling, taking the manhole cover shot, one of the boys shouted out, “What are you doing?”

“Taking pictures of the elevator!” I said.

The young man wanted to know why. When I said it was for a blog, I guess that was enough for him. Anyway, his attention went back to something on his cell phone.

The Wahoo elevator is an attractive feature of the town, fitting naturally with the older buildings along the main street. A man at a local pub, seeing my camera, popped out and said curiosity got the better of him. I told him what I was doing there. I guess a tourist with a camera along the street is a little unusual. And Nebraskans, by nature, like to know who is about.

4 comments on “In Wahoo, Nebr., Tillotson’s elevator finds new life as a cell tower for AT&T

  1. ndjmom says:

    Thanks for following my blog. I thought the Wahoo elevator was still in use, storage around here is so scarce. We have internet satellites on the elevators in Murdock and Elmwood, don’t know if there is rent paid or not. I like to think of the elevators as being the skyscrapers of the Midwest. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    • kocart says:

      Thank you for visiting here! You are very welcome. My family has deep Nebraska roots, so elevators have always been a part of the skyline since I was a little kid. I remember riding out from Utah to Fremont, Nebraska every summer with Mom and Dad to see my grandparents, and seeing the bright white skyscrapers flagging the location of the next town.

      The drought is really scary for everyone. I spoke to a friend in Great Britain, and he says their summer is cool and wet. I told him to please send some of it here.

      I’m glad I started following your blog–you have a great Nebraskan perspective. I look forward to seeing all you have in store. Thanks again for stopping by!

  2. […] In Wahoo, Nebr., Tillotson’s elevator finds new life as a cell tower for AT&T ( Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Employees, J.H. Tillotson, Contractor, Their Work and tagged architecture, construction, Eugene F. Mayer, grain elevator, J.H. Tillotson Contractor, Joseph H. Tillotson, Mayer-Osborn Company, McCook Nebraska, slip-formed concrete, William Osborn. […]

  3. […] In Wahoo, Nebr., Tillotson’s elevator finds new life as a cell tower for AT&T ( […]

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