On my road trip to visit my grandfather Reginald Tillotson’s elevators, the first stop was Hereford, Texas. It was toward the end of my second day of driving from California, and I arrived in time for late-afternoon light.
I had departed I-40 on the north and came down U.S. 385 for 28 miles through Deaf Smith County.
The desert scrub ends rather suddenly in the Texas Panhandle, and I found myself amid prosperous-looking farmsteads and cropland irrigated by center-pivots. It looked like corn, wheat, and cotton predominated.
Hereford, which is southwest of Amarillo, is one stinky town. People said it’s because of huge surrounding feedlots. They sounded proud about it.
There were a couple of enormous grain terminals on the horizon as I approached. The Tillotson elevator was evident to their left. It was the smaller one, but the unique curved headhouse gave away its identity.
I drove east on U.S. 60 to what Google Maps identifies as the East End Hereford Grain Corp., which is across the railroad tracks on Dairy Road.
Tillotson Construction Co. built this 300,000-bushel elevator in 1951. Records show it had six tanks, or silos, of 20 feet in diameter. Notes say “Leg-Tunnel-Gallery” and “Top & Bot 30″ belts.”
A semi-truck lift and attached drive were also included.
The elevator looked to be in pretty good shape. There are some horizontal cracks on the silos, but they had been filled in. On the headhouse, traces of letters appeared to say Freeman Grain Corp. The concrete elevator towered over 10 barrel-like steel silos and an ungainly superstructure, along with bins and hoppers that linked to the concrete elevator’s headhouse by means of a spindly looking line.
This kind of annex was in a way preferable to a series of concrete silos. The Hereford elevator is a nice, free-standing example of Tillotson’s signature style.
The elevator’s tanks are 125 feet high. The headhouse, or cupola, is 17 feet wide, 36.75 feet long, and 27 feet high. So the structure reaches 152 feet up.
No one was around, so I helped myself to photos. The only distractions came when trains went by.
I was famished after the long day on the road, so I knocked off when I had my photos and checked in at the Hereford Inn just across East 1st Street. As I wrote in the introduction to this series, it was a pretty crummy place.
But after dining at Dakota’s Steakhouse (smothered fried chicken: $10.83), I went back to the motel and slept well despite the fact that the trains seemed to be crossing through the room.