In response to a reader’s question, we are posting some basic specifications of the Alta, Iowa, elevator that Tillotson Construction Co. built in 1950. (Plans alter between “Tillotson Contracting Co.” and “Tillotson Construction Co.”
The drawings seen above are Tillotson’s standard plan for a 250,000-bushel elevator with eight tanks (silos).
Capacity at Alta was 246,070 bushels. The eight tanks of 18 feet in diameter sat on a main slab of 60.0 by 73.5 feet. The driveway was 13 x 15 feet.
The walls of the tanks rose 115 feet from the slab, and they were topped by the cupola measuring 23.0 feet wide, 61.5 feet long, and 39 feet high. That brought the structure up to 154 feet–quite imposing.
One of the largest wheat crops ever yielded by this section of the northwestern Oklahoma wheat belt was dumped into Goltry’s new 60,000 bushel elevator built for the Farmers’ Exchange of Goltry by the Tillotson construction company of Omaha, Nebraska,
The construction company operated by R.O and J.H. Tillotson, brothers, designers of modern concrete buildings, both of whom were in Goltry at various times during the progress of the building, was awarded the contract March 15. Shortly afterwards a crew of local workers began digging the pit, the first step in the actual construction of the new building.
Wheat was being dumped into the elevator at a time when the harvesting of wheat in this section was only beginning while electricians and skilled workers for the construction company were giving the building its finishing touches.
After the pit had been dug, a crew of 45 men–part of them local persons–was put to work by the company. Carpenters were building slip forms into which concrete was poured. The forms were four feet in height. As concrete was poured, the forms were moved upwards.
The forms were raised with jacks of which there were 48. All 48 jacks were turned by four men. Two turns of the jack screw raised the forms an inch and the jacks were turned in almost continuous operation.
The level of the forms was checked every hour in an effort to insure absolute accuracy. The Tillotson construction company used a new style of checking device in their job here. The company already had used five different kinds of checking devices during its various construction jobs. Employees of the company reported that the new device was the most accurate they had yet used.
The forms were raised an average of six feet every 10 hours. In the new checking device, targets were used in measuring distances with plumbs to keep the forms absolutely level all the way around at all times during their progress upwards.
The new style of checking system was not designed and made available until a short time previous to the date upon which the company began the Goltry job.
Before superintendent W.B. Morris, whose home is in Kansas City, left the job, 150,000 bushels of wheat had been put through the elevator. More than 85 carloads had been loaded from the elevator before Morris left. Each carload amounts to an average of 1,800 bushels. The machinery and equipment in the elevator were operating perfectly before the last of the company’s workers and the superintendent left the job.
“Everything ran smoothly with never a touch of trouble,” Morris, superintendent of the Goltry job for the Tillotson construction company, said.
A large amount of the responsibility for seeing that the day by day progress of the building was not interrupted at any time was delegated to Morris. However, Morris gave a great deal of the credit to the entire group of workers which included a number of local men. Morris said his company had “the best cooperation among the men working for us. We appreciate the interest shown by the people of the community and the efforts the men put forth endeavoring to keep the job going at the proper speed at all times,” Morris said.
The new elevator is 120 feet from the bottom of the basement to the top. The basement is four feet below the ground level and seven and a half feet below the floor. The capacity is 60,000 bushels.
A truck lift on the first floor of the elevator picks up trucks with ease in the process of dumping grain from the trucks into the pits. The new style of truck lift will not catch the radiator or damage the truck in any way.
Two pits into which grain is dumped hold 1,200 bushels. The first pit holds 850, the second 450.
Legs motivate the belt and cups and such a speed that the grain is elevated upwards into the bins at a rate of 60 bushels per minute.
At the top of the building, an automatic scale dumps 60 bushels per minute. The scale hold 10 bushels and automatically drops six times per minute.
A blowing system cleans wheat and sends the dust and chaff and foreign particles down a chute and into a compartment just above the first floor. At intervals this compartment is dumped into a truck and hauled away.
A fast cage type man lift–one of the fastest man lifts to be found in an elevator of the size of the new Goltry building–hoists the workers upward to the top of the building at a time saving rate of speed.
Among the various types of men working on the job–of which there were as many as 45 at the time the crew was running slip forms–were electricians, concrete workers, steel men, jack men, hoisting engineer, concrete mixer operator, finishers who smoothed the walls and the floors, painters, buggy men and wheel barrow men.
Front page caption:
Goltry’s new modern elevator building (above), built for the Farmers’ Exchange of Goltry by the Tillotson construction company of Omaha, Nebraska, is 120 feet in height, rising 116 feet above the ground level and falling four feet below the level of the ground. The capacity of the new building is 60,000 bushels and its modern machinery and equipment, all brand new, enable the operators of the Farmers’ Exchange to dump grain into the pit, elevate it, clean it with a modern blowing system, weigh it and load it into waiting box cars as rapidly as modern high speed trucks can bring it in. Photo exclusively for The Goltry Leader by Cochrane commercial photographers.
Inside page caption:
Approaching Goltry from the west a person would be afforded this view of the new Farmers’ Exchange elevator building (above) towering 116 feet toward the sky, its smooth, white walls reflecting with added brilliance the dazzling rays of the midsummer, afternoon sun. (Photo exclusively for The Goltry Leader by Cochrane commercial photographers).
We have thought several times about writing to you to ask if there would be any possibility that we could get an allotment for not raising wheat on that land of Dad’s down there in Kansas.
Now of course it doesn’t seem right to us that the government should pay for this land being idle when there is really no intention of farming it, but we keep hearing of similar cases like this and even understand that where the local agent knows the owner of the land they are solicited and offered an allotment for this unused land.
We feel that you are probably familiar with this subject and if you have a few moments to spare, might drop us a line and let us know what you think about it.
We thought we would get out to see you and John sometime this summer but haven’t had a call anywhere near you so far. Most of our work this year has been down in Oklahoma, Kansas in the eastern part, Missouri in the western part, and eastern Iowa. We are enclosing a local newspaper from Goltry, Oklahoma which shows a job that we just finished. This is our first attempt at concrete construction and out of five similar jobs built in this same neighborhood our concrete by test shows to be the strongest, the machinery the best and fastest, and the insurance rate on this job is lower than any of the others; and as long as we didn’t lose any money on our first attempt at this line of work we feel that we would like to have more of this reinforced concrete construction work.
Don’t believe we answered John’s letter of April 5, as it came in right when we were the very busiest, but we still have hopes of getting out there to see both of you before the year is over.
We hope your wheat crop was good and that you may be coming up this way sometime soon and will stop and see us.
DALLAS CENTER, IA–Charles Hauber, 21, timekeeper on a grain elevator construction project here, is living proof that “a weak chin” is not visual evidence of a lack of determination.
Seven years ago Hauber’s lower jaw suffered a major injury in an auto accident. A nerve was severed and, as a result, the natural growth and development of his chin was retarded.
Two years ago, Hauger spent a month at University Hospitals in Iowa City, where physicians and surgeons estimated his possibilities fro reconstruction of his lower jaw and chin.
By using bone from his hip, surgeons are hopeful that they can build a normal mandible for Hauber. Through use of cartilage, the youth’s chin would be rebuilt to normal appearance.
Long self-conscious about his receding chin, Hauber developed a plan for accomplishment of normal features. He left Loras College in Dubuque, where he had been enrolled two years studying for Catholic priesthood, to build a bank account for the surgery.
Surgeons have assured Hauber that a series of operations would be necessary. The surgery will be expensive. When Charles has saved $1,000, he’ll submit himslef for the initial work. The accumulation of savings is slow–but Hauber already has more than $400 in the bank.
Hauber is a most unusual construction timekeeper. He has had three years of Greek and four years of Latin. He has had three years of German and a year of French. He even has had six months of Spanish.
Besides his interest in languages, Hauber is an enthusiastic amateur short story writer. He has written several stories–without ever submitting any to editors for professional judgment. And, as a student of people and human nature, he’s constantly alert for character studies and incidents he can incorporate in fiction writing.
Worked on Elevators
Eldest of six children of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hauber of Emmetsburg, Charles–known to co-workers as “Chuck”–for two years attended a Catholic seminary at East Troy, Wis., a school conducted by the Society of Divine Word. He also had a year at Epworth College, near Dubuque.
When Hauber first was employed by the Tillotson Construction Co. of Omaha, he worked on an elevator project at Bancroft. Then the crew shifted to the Farmer’s Elevator Co. at Ralston. After a “repair job” at Aurora, Neb., he was assigned to the elevator construction project at Boxholm.
Here the Tillotson company is building the $151,000 addition on the Farmer’s Co-Operative Co. elevator.
Hauber likes his work–but his dreams go beyond a career in construction business. Whether he’ll return to studies for the priesthood, he hasn’t determined. His interest in languages–which he continues to study after working hours–has kindled thoughts of becoming an interpreter. Possibilities as a writer are not overlooked.
Whatever he heads for, be assured Hauber will give it the old college try–and he hopes to have “a determined chin” to show with it.
From the Des Moines Tribune, Friday, Dec. 16, 1955:
Worked On Elevators
Eldest of six children of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hauber of Emmetsburg, Charles–known to co-workers as “Chuck”–for two years attended a Catholic seminary at East Troy, Wes., a school conducted by the Society of the Divine Word.
He also had a year at Epworth College, near Dubuque.
When Hauber first was employed by the Tillotson Construction Co. of Omaha, he worked on an elevator project at Bancroft. Then the crew shifted to the Farmer’s Elevator Co. at …
The Clyde (Okla.) Co-operative Association filed its 21st-annual report in 1940 and listed Bernard Blubaugh (seen above) as general manager of its Medford operation.
The report named the nine directors:
L.E. Melka, President
B.F. Cline, Vice president
Otto Zeman, Secretary
C.E. Clark, Mike Hein, E.J. Best, J.R. Skalnik, C.S. Shellhammer, and Louis Droselmeyer, directors
Stogie in hand, Bernard Blubaugh walks an elevator site. Photos courtesy of the Blubaugh Archive.
Employees were O.L. Sturtz, local manager, Clyde; Phil Kenny, local manager, Renfrow; Lewis Dahlen, local manager, Deer Creek; E.L. Hampton, local manager, Nardin; Gary Cassingham, local manager, Salt Fork; Evelyn Dillon, bookkeeper, Medford; Elmer Huffman, elevator, Medford; Robert Wharry, gasoline and oil, Medford; Carl Dahlen, gasoline and oil, Clyde; Irvin Dester, gasoline and oil, Deer Creek.
Another co-op record shows that Tillotson Construction Co., of Omaha, was already familiar with the co-op. On March 11, 1936, the company was awarded the contract to build an elevator at Clyde. This would have been a wooden elevator: their first concrete elevator was in 1939 at Goltry.
The bid was $10,950. Two weeks later the company came back to the co-op board with a request.
“Tillotson ask if we would reconsider as he had left out $3,335 labor bill,” the record says. “Board did reconsider.”
And Tillotson went on to do additional, significant work for the Clyde Co-op, building the 212,000-bushel elevator of reinforced concrete at Medford in 1941. Presumably, the bid included labor costs on that one.
We wanted terrific in Wahoo. The fifth and final stop on our Jan. 2 road trip in eastern Nebraska called for it, in keeping with the unusual name of the seat of Saunders County and the town’s colorful history. We are told “wahoo” is taken from a shrub, the eastern wahoo (Euonymous atropurpureus), and the name was also given to a navy sub, the USS Wahoo.
Wahoo happens to have produced more than its share of notability. Wahoo Sam Crawford twirled his way into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Howard Hanson composed his way to a Pulitzer Prize. Darryl F. Zanuck swept up three Academy Awards. Geneticist George Beadle shared a Nobel and took over Chicago U.
There must be something in the water: Wahoo had fewer than 3,000 people until after World War Two. A greater concentration of talent, where?
Electrodes on the brain.
Tillotson Construction Co. built a 150,000-bushel, single-leg concrete elevator there in 1950.
I had passed through Wahoo many times without understanding the elevator’s provenance and would not have thought to see Tillotson embossed on the manhole covers.
Notes in the construction record say our Wahoo house followed the busy year’s Imo, Okla., plan. It means five grand tanks of 16 feet in diameter and 120 feet in height. There’s a 13 x 17-foot center driveway, and the note says, “Split 4 bins over Dr.”
Construction consumed 1,492 tons of reinforced concrete, 40 tons of plain concrete for the hoppers, and 72.34 tons of steel.
The slab, 21 inches of reinforced thickness, covered 54 x 51 feet.
Our excitement soon diminished on seeing the subject and its neglect. What a shame to Wahoo. The use as an antenna tower is a terrible disappointment.
Things could be fixed up in a cute robotic way. Lay out a note of history, then rachet up each paying guest in the manlift, serving Wahoo wine on the dining deck. Block the wind and electromagnetic radiation, and it’s a regional phenomenon. People will come all the way from Loup City.
We visited late Saturday. The taverns had filled. Naught else moved. We extracted no information and must imagine circumstances of the elevator’s degradation.
Wahoo produces all-stars, but the big star amidst, is disheveled and in duress. Like Prometheus, bound to a rock, an eagle preying his liver, Tillotson’s Wahoo house awaits Hercules.
Before Prometheus could be freed, he received a visit from straying Io, garbed as “a most lovely white heifer.” She recognized him, saying:
“Wet pit,” notes the Tillotson Construction Co. record in its details of the David City job of 1951.
A Tillotson crew put up a single-leg, 180,000-bushel, reinforced-concrete elevator in the seat of Butler County during one of the wettest periods ever recorded in the prairie region.
“Most of Kansas and Missouri as well as large portions of Nebraska and Oklahoma had monthly precipitation totaling 200 percent of normal in May, 300 percent in June, and 400 percent in July of 1951,” says a report by the National Weather Service.
But the work went on. The new David City elevator was built on an original plan with five tanks, or silos, of 18 feet in diameter and rising 120 feet. There was a 13 by 17-foot center driveway, eight bins over the drive, and a total of 15 bins and overflow. “Dust Bin @ Ext.” observes a further note.
The elevator required 1,716 cubic yards of reinforced concrete, 20 yards of plain concrete for hoppers, and 81.16 tons of rebar.
The 21-inch-thick main slab extended over 60 by 55 feet, covering an area (“Act. Outside on Ground”) of 3,057 square feet. It sat over a 17-foot-deep pit. The design incorporated a full basement.
The slab supported 3,513 tons of reinforced concrete and 40 tons of plain concrete. With grain weighing 60 pounds per bushel, there was capacity for 5,400 tons of grain. Along with structural steel and machinery as well as hoppers, the the elevator was rated at 9,458 tons total loaded weight.
An elegant rounded cupola, or headhouse, sat atop the tanks. Its dimension were 19 feet wide, 38 feet long, and 27 1/3 feet high. With the moderately tall cupola and moderately deep pit, the centers of the leg’s head and boot pulleys were 154.83 feet apart.
The pulleys were 72 x 14 x 2 3/16 inches (boot) and 72 x 14 x 3 5/16 (head) and turned the at 42 revolutions per minute.
Calumet supplied the 330-inch, six-ply belt that was 14 inches wide. Cups of 12 x 6 inches were spaced at nine-inch intervals.
A 30-horsepower Howell motor delivered a theoretical leg capacity of 7,140 bushels per hours. Operating at 80 percent, it needed 27.6 hp to deliver actual capacity of 5,700 bushels per hour.
A 1.5-hp motor ran the manlift. The truck lift operated with a 7.5-hp Ehrsam motor.
A further note indicates, “300 Bu. Dryer Split Bin #7 for Dryer.”
David City, a gorgeous town of about 2,900 people and the seat of Butler County, is unapologetically named for David Butler, the state of Nebraska’s first governor (1867 to 1871) and the only one to date ever to be impeached. It was alleged that he had used school funds to engage in property speculation when he moved the capital from Omaha to Lincoln. The state legislature reviewed the impeachment in 1877 and expunged it from the record.
Founded right in the middle of all this controversy, in 1873, David City has a large courthouse square with streets wide enough for islands of parked cars in the middle of the pavement. There is also an impressive municipal park at the south edge of this splendid burg.
Even before our visit on a clear but chilly January afternoon, I had been to David City many times to visit the Horaceks–my aunt, uncle, and cousins on my father’s side of the family. In the summer of 1966, when I was 11 years old, I spent a week with them. Having just acquired a transistor radio as a premium for my work selling magazine subscriptions in the National Youth Sales Club, I spent quite a bit of time walking up and down the sidewalk groovin’ to “Bus Stop,” by the Hollies and “Summer in the City,” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. Omaha was 65 miles away, but station KOIL (“Mighty 1290”) came through just fine even in the daytime.
At the end of my visit I rode the bus back to the big city. We stopped in the village of Brainard with time to look around, so I went into a pharmacy and bought an affordable gift for my mother, a small jar of Vaseline, which seemed practical and useful. She was, as one might suppose, nonplused.
In all my visits to David City, it never occurred to me that my Grandfather Reginald Tillotson, on my mother’s side, had built there. But records of Tillotson Construction Co. show a 180,000-bushel elevator in 1951, and the purpose of our present visit was to study it.
There are two concrete elevators on the Frontier Cooperative site along the tracks at the southwestern edge of town. Each one has a related flat-storage building. Our problem lay in determining which was the 1951 job and whether the second structure was also by Tillotson. Even with zoom photos of the manhole covers over openings in the tanks, or silos, there’s nothing conclusive to share. The rusty cast-iron plates bear the imprint the Hutchinson Foundry & Steel Co., a regular Tillotson supplier, but because the manholes are so high off the ground, and the plates are rusty, I’ve been unable to read the remaining lettering at bottom.
Nevertheless, the north elevator is elegantly crowned with a curved cupola, the Tillotson signature headhouse that was perfected by about 1950. Dimensions are 19 feet wide, 38 feet long, and 27 1/3 feet high. Built on an original plan with five tanks rising 120 feet, this elevator has a 13 by 17-foot driveway. Other external features such as doorways with lintels and external lamps are very much in the Tillotson style.
The question then is about the south elevator. It has a stepped, rectangular headhouse. Who built this elevator and when?
Both headhouses are labeled “Farmers Co-Op Grain Co.” An explanation is given on Frontier’s website: “Over the years, the predecessors of both Frontier and Midwest (Cooperative) completed many mergers and acquisitions, growing their territories across southern and central Nebraska. The Frontier name came into being in 1990, following the merger of Farmers Cooperative Co. of Brainard with Farmers Union Cooperative of Mead.”
A 2015 news report says Farmers Cooperative purchased the David City elevators in 1985.
Deeper insight into the history comes from the State Elevator News roundup in the June 1919 edition of The Co-Operative Manager and Farmer: “Wells Howe has resigned his position as manager of the Nye-Schneider-Fowler Elevator in David City, his resignation to take effect as soon as his successor has been secured. Mr. Howe has been connected with the company fourteen years, and with the David City Elevator eleven years.”
A note on the Nebraska Memories page of the state’s official site says Nye Schneider Fowler Co., of Fremont, “was organized in 1902 as successor to the former grain and lumber business, Nye Schneider Company. Frank Fowler joined Ray Nye and Rudolf B. Schneider as a named partner.”
The elevators show scars from hard use, with spalling on the exterior walls and no recent whitewashing, but evidently they remain in good operating order.
As it was Saturday afternoon when we visited, no one was around the facility. There was only a grain dryer’s roar, even stronger than that of the wind: it must be a curse for people in the nearby houses.