More details on the Nebraska elevator site where Jim Russell died

By Kurt Glinn

I was the manager at the Aurora Cooperative Murphy location in central Nebraska. I was told from the old timers in the area that were around when the elevator was built in the late-’50s [that an] accident happened there, shutting down construction for about a week.

The Aurora Coop's Murphy elevator and annex. Jim Russell died in a fall during the elevator's construction.

The Aurora Coop’s Murphy elevator and annex. Jim Russell died in a fall during construction.

Murphy is no more than an elevator along the railroad now. It is six miles west of Aurora, Neb., or fifteen miles east of Grand Island, Neb.

Thank you for a wonderful site. One of my first bosses was a man by the name of Willis “Bill” Maahs. He was a superintendent for Tillotson into the early ’60s when he stayed in Aurora and  became operations supervisor for Aurora Co-op. He helped build the Murphy elevator and the Aurora elevators. There are two Tillotson houses in town, as well as the feed mill in Aurora.

I have always been intrigued with the workings of the old concrete houses versus the new bigger faster ones, although I know how farming and the grain business view them.

Concrete grain elevators are very highly regarded in the industry as the most permanent. My reference is to the older, smaller, multi-bin elevators of 20,000- to 25,000-bushel bins versus the newer 250,000- to 300,000-bushel bins being built.

The industry has come along way in the last fifty years: the ability to jack the forms with hydraulics, the diameter of the bins, the height and capacity of legs. Putting all the equipment outside of the structures rather than enclosing everything in the house, which has saved many elevators from the disaster of explosions, et cetera.

Farmers are into a newer generation also, thirty-five years and younger. They want fast unload and large unloading pits.
The ag industry as a whole had seen large improvements in the size and capacity of equipment, making some of the smaller, older elevators almost impossible to use.

I find the older ones more interesting because they were what started a new generation from wood houses to concrete. Building work floors and platforms from concrete rather than steel and expanded metal. All is my own opinion as to why I enjoy the first generation of concrete grain elevators in the ag industry.

2 comments on “More details on the Nebraska elevator site where Jim Russell died

  1. Kyle says:

    I too am interested in the old concrete structures. I have been in the grain industry going on 9 years and have ridden over 30 slips. Including one for the Aurora coop in Aurora. Even with the advancements in the industry, slipping is a long and hard process. It still takes a lot of man power to rise 150 feet above the ground. I have been a follower of our grandfathers grain elevators for a little while now, and I really enjoy seeing the pictures of the old days. Things I’ve only heard about from superintendents and foremen who have been in the game 30 to 40 years. I must admit as well, i really enjoy seeing the things that came before they started as well. With every picture I see and story I hear I am amazed at how things were done to build the early skyscrapers of the prairie.

  2. […] More details on the Nebraska elevator site where Jim Russell died ( […]

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