All specs, and the Bouncing Czech’s photos, delineate elevators in David City

The Tillotson Construction of Omaha elevator also serves as a satellite antenna tower.  Photo by Tom McLaughlin

The Farmers Cooperative elevator, built by Tillotson Construction Company, of Omaha, Neb., also serves today as a satellite antenna tower. Photo by Tom McLaughlin

Story by Kristen Cart

My blogging partner Ronald Ahrens said he hoped we would find the motherlode of history about the elevators his grandfather Reginald Tillotson had built. With luck and the help of his family, we finally did it.

Reginald Tillotson’s sons, Charles, Tim, and Mike have all recently shared their memories from the job sites. Tim Tillotson also found and restored a treasure trove of company documents and photos. Best of all was a set of blueprint specifications for over 100 Tillotson Construction Company slip-formed concrete elevators and annexes. Eureka!

A historical image taken in David City, dated October 28, 1964. This is not the Tillotson Construction elevator, but it's neighbor a short distance down the rail line.

A historical image taken in David City, dated October 28, 1964. This is not the Tillotson Construction elevator, but its neighbor a short distance down the rail line.

David City, Neb., is a town due west of Fremont in the eastern half of the state. One of the two elevators in town was listed in the Tillotson blueprints. Armed with our new information, I looked for pictures of the newly found elevator.

I discovered some history, instead.

The grain piled next to the elevator in the 1964 press photo is milo, a feed grain, and the pile-up was attributed to a shortage of rail cars. Scenes like this were observed all over Nebraska that year.

The elevator in the photo didn’t quite have the Tillotson look, so a quick peek at David City on a Google map showed a washed-out image with just the suggestion of a curved headhouse on a second elevator in town. Further search brought me to “The Bouncing Czech” Flickr page and beautiful photos of the Farmers Cooperative elevator I was looking for. With Tom McLaughlin’s kind permission, they are posted here.

Tom McLaughlin likes to stop and check out elevators.

In an exchange of e-mails, he wrote, “A friend of our family owned the Magowan Elevator, in Gordon, Neb., so I’ve been in that one several times. I still remember my first manlift ride–that was the scariest ride I’ve ever taken.

David City's "other" elevator. Photo by Tom McLaughlin

David City’s “other” elevator. Photo by Tom McLaughlin

“Back in the 1950s, my dad used to ‘walk the pipeline’–he literally walked the natural gas pipeline in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, looking for signs of leaks, before they went to aerial photography and control valves.

“So he always liked to wander around the back roads and small towns, and I think that’s where I got the bug. When we would go on a trip, we never knew what route he’d take. I don’t think he did either!”

Tom’s enthusiasm is contagious.

The small towns are peaceful, yet inviting, and the elevators are fascinating. It won’t be too much longer before this blogger takes another grain elevator trip.

Specifications 

Tillotson Construction Company records show the David City elevator was built in 1951 according to the “David City Plan.” This includes five tanks, each one 18 feet in diameter and 120 feet high.

Total capacity: 180,000 bushels

Driveway: 13×17 feet with eight bins over the drive

Bins: 15 in all and overflow, with a dust bin at the exterior

Reinforced concrete: 1716 cubic yards

Plain concrete (hoppers): 20 cubic yards

Reinforcing steel (including jack rods): 81.16 tons

Steel and concrete:

Below main slab: 6632 pounds and 45 cubic yards

In main slab: 22,233 pounds and 180 cubic yards

Drawform walls: 106,320 pounds and 1253 cubic yards

Driveway and work floor: 2543 pounds and 15 cubic yards

Deep bin bottoms: 8081 pounds and 38 cubic yards

O.H. bin bottoms: 2917 pounds and 22 cubic yards

Bin root: 6122 pounds and 44 cubic yards

Scale floor: 285 pounds and 10 cubic yards

Cupola (headhouse) walls: 2830 pounds and 70 cubic yards

Distributor floor: 1494 pounds and 8 cubic yards

Cupola roof: 1586 pounds and 14 cubic yards

Miscellaneous (Boot, leg, headhouse, Tr., sink, steps, etc.): 1273 pounds and 15 cubic yards

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6 comments on “All specs, and the Bouncing Czech’s photos, delineate elevators in David City

  1. Linda Laird says:

    What an incredible find! How many are in KS? Dates please. How wonderful to have original data.

    • Linda, we’re just starting to delve into this and will be sharing data as we begin to absorb it. I’ll try to come up with an answer to your question soon. — Ronald

  2. Chuck Tillotson says:

    I remember the David City job quite well as I was, by then, a ‘regular’ stand-by driver for Dad if he felt he needed assistance to spell him along the route. In the later part of 1951 Dad had purchased a new 52 Olds 98 which was a rocket ship and I really enjoyed driving it. During the next year Dad was making a similar trip out through Nebraska where along the way he encountered a farmer on a tractor suddenly entering the roadway. Dad slammed on the brakes, slid sideways and ended up upside down in the ditch. A steel fence post had smashed through the roof and spiked his shoulder to the point of dislocating it. Other than that, Dad was OK.

    Recording the Tillotson Construction records, brother Tim has indeed retained possession of a true treasure trove and it will be fun to review these job records, one at a time. The only thing about the records is that they are not fully complete. There is at least one full years worth of records missing from the mid 50’s and maybe more. Dad sold the daylights out of his construction business and contracting capabilities almost single-handedly, which eventually lead to the shortening his life (51 yrs old at death).

  3. […] All specs, and the Bouncing Czech’s photos, delineate elevators in David City (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com) […]

  4. […] All specs, and the Bouncing Czech’s photos, delineate elevators in David City (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com) […]

  5. […] All specs, and the Bouncing Czech’s photos, delineate elevators in David City (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com) […]

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