Story and photo by Ronald Ahrens
I am the type of person who goes around the country saying funny (as in odd) things to people.
It was June of 2011, six months before Kristen Cart and I found each other and first contemplated launching a blog about our grandfathers’ grain elevators. I was riding my motorcycle from Michigan to California. Instead of following I-44, I cut across the northern Oklahoma prairie on US-60. On this route the small city of Bartlesville features a Frank Lloyd Wright tower, which I visited.
My next stop was for dinner in Tonkawa, a small town of about 3250 people. It’s a mile off the highway just east of I-35.
Parking my bike outside a Mexican restaurant, I noticed the huge elevator towering over the downtown buildings.
Once I got seated in the restaurant and ordered from the menu, I told the waitress I was going out for a minute to take a picture.
“My grandfather used to build elevators like that,” I said.
She looked at me as if to say, “What elevator?”
It might be possible to live in Tonkawa and never notice the commanding headhouse and dozen or more bins. I walk around inside my house without seeing the art that hangs on the walls or the cobwebs that hang in the corners.
At the time, I had no thought of snooping around after dinner, while there was still some daylight, and searching for embossed manhole covers or some other means of identifying the builder. I didn’t yet know about embossed manhole covers.
Not that this appears to be one of Tillotson Construction’s jobs. My cursory search for information has turned up nothing, and the number I found for the co-op responded with a fax tone.
Maybe our readers can pitch in on this one.
But odd remarks will not be tolerated!
- Concrete’s prevalence in elevator construction was ‘just a matter or time’ (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)
- Tillotson Construction’s grain elevators often varied in capacity (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)
Farmer’s Co-op had it built in about 1957. One of those old farmers would know who the contractor was. Don Caughlin, J.C. Fath, maybe a McAninch.
I’m thinking if you could get inside, prob. the load out area you will find a plaque.