By Ronald Ahrens
As with yesterday’s post, we’re working from a photo sent by Kim Cooper, a friend of this blog who happens to have grain elevators in his heritage, too. He likes to incorporate them into his superb, plein air landscape paintings.
Sometimes Cooper sends pictures.
“Here’s one from Firth, Nebraska,” he said. “Looks like a rounded top.”
Indeed, the rounded headhouse was the signature on Tillotson Construction Co.’s elevators after about 1950.
But other builders could have used this style. We see no mention of Firth in Tillotson’s records. We see Minatare (1941), Rushville (1947), Polk and Richland (1948), Hordville (1949), Bellwood (1950), Cedar Bluffs (1950), Aurora and Omaha and Wahoo (1950), Greenwood and David City and York (1951), Fairfield (1952), Bellwood (340,000 bushels of storage in 1954), and Waverly (1955).
That’s 15 locations. Tillotson built far more elevators in Iowa and Oklahoma than in the company’s home state of Nebraska. But 15 isn’t bad. Based on anecdotal information we also suspect a couple of other locations.
But after calling up Dennis Kenning, we’ve ruled out Firth as an unrecorded job by Tillotson. Kenning is sales and marketing manager for Farmers Cooperative, which has headquarters in Dorchester, Neb. and dozens of elevators throughout southeastern Nebraska.
Kenning expressed curiosity, looked into the matter, and emailed his findings:
“Here’s what we found out,” he wrote.
- Constructed sometime in the ’60s
- Roberts Const Co.
- Hutchinson Foundry & Steel
- Sabetha, Kansas
We found Roberts Construction Co. located in Axtell but were unable to reach them. The question arises about Roberts’ design source–were there any Tillotson connections?
Roberts was a fairly large elevator builder based out of Sabetha, KS. They built a lot in KS and MO especially for MFA Missouri Farmers Assn. Their chief engineer was Norbert Pierson who went on to be chief engineer for MFA and then form his own short lived elevator construction company, NEPCO, Norbert Pierson Company.
Wow, thank you Chandler!