Views of Buffalo’s terminals and some related grain-trade history, Part 1

By Ronald Ahrens

Kristen was in Buffalo the other day and sent photos of the terminal elevators there. In a short series over the next three days we’re going to post them with our own commentary as well as some lines from Cargill: Trading the World’s Grain, by Wayne G. Broehl, Jr. These lines show how central Buffalo was to the grain trade.

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“Terminal elevators, Buffalo, New York,” Kristen said.

“The white elevator has a funny face,” I said.

“It’s the face of Gold Medal flour.

* * *

“Cargill’s most common route for export wheat was by lake-shipping to Buffalo (from either Milwaukee or Green Bay), then by rail through to New York City, where the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad maintained two huge waterside terminals, one holding 2 million bushels, the other 1 1/2 million.” — p. 47

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“Floating tiki bar!” Kristen said.

“Floating tiki in Buffalo–who knew?” I said.

* * *

“[Arthur M.] Prime [“self-styled barley king of Duluth”] and J.B. Cooper, Cargill’s Minneapolis barley trader, continued to dovetail barley purchases from the two locations as well as with the office at Green Bay, and all three offices dealt with an agent from Buffalo, Dudley Irwin.” — p. 110

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“They had a zip line set up between the Labatt’s elevator and the big one. A destroyed elevator foundation is under the zip line. You can see it on Google Earth,” Kristen said.

* * *

“John Sr. and Lindahl began to consider the purchase of a terminal elevator in Buffalo, which would have led to a trading office in that important city. In early 1909 a terminal building came available, but MacMillan turned it down because it was not fireproof…” — p. 144

“As Cargill’s barley went forward to the Buffalo markets, Irwin said he had difficulty in selling it, writing Prime, “We are losing our trade every day just as I told you we would, and for the simple reason that we are shipping dirty barley … It is all right to say you will ship your barley in the dirt and sell it for feed … that is your own business, but if you are going to sell to maltsters you have got to ship them barley as clean as our competitors will furnish them, or fall down.” — p 144

 

 

 

 

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