The 320,000-bushel Tillotson elevator in Canyon, Tex., followed the Bellwood plan


IMG_8860The year 1950 was a busy one for Tillotson Construction Co.  The Omaha outfit (my grandfather Reginald Tillotson’s company) built 25 grain elevators–an amazing number. They were in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. The next year they would build one in Missouri.

Texas-Okla Logo 04The Canyon, Texas, elevator operated by Consumer’s Supply Co-Op was built on the same single-leg plan developed for Bellwood, Nebraska, in that year. It incorporated eight tanks, or silos, of 20 feet in diameter and 120 feet in height. Capacity was 320,000 bushels.

Measuring 13 x 17 feet, the driveway was underneath 10 bins. A note in the construction record mentions “5 bin Dist. Under Scale.” In all, there were 22 bins and a dust bin as well. 

IMG_8855While the Bellwood plan was used for five elevators, it’s interesting to note the slight differences in materials used. For example, Canyon took 2,463 cubic yards of reinforced concrete while Burlington, Colorado, also on the Bellwood plan, took 2,436 cubic yards (the exact same amount as the mother elevator in Bellwood and the one in Hartley, Texas, which is coming soon in this series). Rock Valley, Iowa, though, took 2,394 cubic yards.

In all, this reinforced concrete weighed 5,069 tons.

Canyon required another 20.3 cubic yards of plain concrete for hoppers. It weighed 40.3 tons.


Looking up the tracks at Consumer’s Supply Co-Op’s East elevator.

There were 143.3 tons of steel used to reinforce the concrete.

This amount also includes the jack rods used to move the formwork. 

The main slab was 66 x 77.5 feet, for an area (a note says “Act. outside on ground”) of 4,806 square feet.

  • When the tanks were fully loaded, the grain weighed as much as 9,600 tons.
  • Additional structural steel and machinery weighed another 28 tons.
  • This means that the elevator’s gross weigh when loaded was14,964 tons.
  • The pit depth below the main slab was 15 feet and 9 inches.

Up above the main house, the cupola, or headhouse, measured 23 feet wide, 63.75 feet long, and 39 feet high. So the structure’s total height was 159 feet. Look closely at the headhouse photo, top of page, and tell us if it doesn’t seem to be smoking some sort of Turkish pipe.

Pulley centers of the leg were 166 feet apart. The boot pulley was 72 x 14 x 2 3/16 inches. The head pulley was shared the first two dimensions but was wider at 3 15/16 inches. It turned at 42 rpm.

The six-ply belt was 14 inches wide, and the cups were 12 inches wide and six inches deep.

IMG_8881Altogether, 34 hp was required to operate the leg; the record says two 40-hp Howell motors were installed. Theoretical capacity of the leg, based on the cup manufacturer’s rating, was 7,920 bushels per hour. But the leg operated at an actual capacity of 80 percent the theoretical capacity, or 6,350 bushels per hour.

The truck lift had a 7.5-hp Ehrsam motor, and the conveyor had a 3-hp motor.

In all, it was state-of the art in 1950, and the elevator remains in everyday use now.



One comment on “The 320,000-bushel Tillotson elevator in Canyon, Tex., followed the Bellwood plan

  1. Suzassippi says:

    I was born in Canyon in 1950. It seems pretty amazing that the elevator is still in use! Enjoyed the story, but the Turkish pipe connection seems to elude me–possibly because I am not that familiar with what one looks like.

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