Story and photos by Gary Rich
Elkhart is located in extreme southwestern Kansas. This is Morton County. The 2000 census showed Morton County had 3,196 people, of which 2,036 live in Elkhart. The town sits just north of the Oklahoma border and is about 8 miles east of the Colorado border. The area has been known for wheat production. However, this has changed in the past few decades. Corn and milo are now grown as spring crops.
Tillotson Construction Company received the contract from the Elkhart Equity Co-op for the first concrete elevator built in Elkhart. Construction started in late 1945 and finished in late spring 1946. The elevator had a 225,000-bushel capacity.
I was totally shocked when I first viewed this elevator. The Elkart Co-op had three different elevators built over the years. Plus they added five different annexes. Tillotson built what is now known as Elevator Number One.
Elevators Number Two and Three were built by Chalmers & Borton, as well as all annexes.
Was the Elkhart elevator Tillotson’s first? Elkhart was started 1945.
Once I realized which elevator in Elkhart was the Number One, I noticed that it had a rectilinear headhouse. This is quite different from Tillotson’s other elevators. It has been thought that one Tillotson signature was the curved headhouse. Is the Elkhart elevator a one-of-a-kind?
Tillotson did one other thing different on their headhouses from other construction companies.
The long side of the headhouse had two different rows of windows. (You can view the window arrangements of other elevators on this blog, such as those in Rolla and Satanta, Kansas, as well as Ensign, Kansas.)
Could the Elkhart elevator actually have been the first line-elevator that they built. Why did they change to the curved headhouse in their future construction? Was it more cost effective, more efficient, or was it designed to distinguish their elevators from those of their competitors?
I wish to thank Morgan Walls, operations manager-Elkart Equity Co-op for much of their history.
- Tillotson Construction’s grain elevators often varied in capacity (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)
- How Tillotson Construction made a good first impression with the Ensign Co-op (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)
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