In SoCal, an elevator’s tall headhouse reminds us of Vinton Street in Omaha


I’ve meant for a long time to stop at the grain elevator along Interstate 10 in Colton, California, and finally I did.

The elevator, which appears to date from the 1960s, has an elongated headhouse and reminds me in a way of our Vinton Street elevator in Omaha.

The Colton operation is one of 40 sites run by Ardent Mills, which is based in Denver. The elevator stands along the Union Pacific tracks between Riverside and Ontario. No one was to be seen late on a Sunday afternoon, but there was probably milling activity going on in another building: machinery hummed away. 

The elevator’s silos are multi-sided, which is different from anything Tillotson Construction Co. built. Could it be that the walls have greater bearing pressure with such a configuration?


The headhouse is stepped and thrusts toward the sky above the Inland Empire. It would be good to know how long the leg is and why such a rise was necessary.

I tried to look from every angle and even climbed up to the top of a rail car for a picture without hurting myself.

More information about this handsome elevator will be shared as it’s revealed.


4 comments on “In SoCal, an elevator’s tall headhouse reminds us of Vinton Street in Omaha

  1. Doug Skaalrud says:

    Thank you for the excellent photos and information in your stories. I’m a model railroader and some of my layout is dedicated to the grain industry. The stories I get from your site provide a wealth of information that helps me accurately model facilities, vehicles, railroad equipment and people accurately. I also spend a lot more time looking at slip-form elevators when I drive around Minnesota. Living in St. Louis Park, MN, I’m less than a few miles away from that first slip-cast silo at Nordic Ware and ride my bike past it every day in the summer.

  2. Jack Daw says:

    Hi, as a grain elevator enthusiast I enjoy your site very much. It is truly a great resource!

    For this Ardent Mills elevator, I may be able to point you in a possible direction, at least as far as the shape of the silos. The idea of using hexagonal bins was the brainchild of a man named E.N. Puckett, the general manager of the Union Equity grain cooperative in the 1940s, inspired by the hexagonal tiles he saw in a mineral bath in Arkansas. He had Chalmers and Borton construct an elevator for him using that shape in Enid, Oklahoma in 1949.

    The whole story is detailed in an article from Great Plains Quarterly in 1998, by geographer Blake Gumprecht, called “Giants on the Plains: Grain Elevators and the Making of Enid, Oklahoma”. There is an online version on the article at .

    Puckett did not claim a patent, so many companies may have used the design subsequently, but Chalmers and Borton would be my most likely guess as to the builders of this Colton elevator.

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