During one of my recent road trips, I came upon a beautiful concrete construction elevator in American Falls, Idaho. It looked much like the stand-alone elevators built by Tillotson Construction of Omaha, with an added annex. It is in full operation. I explored the elevator complex from about 7:30 am, and stayed on site as workers reported for their 8:00 am shift. It was a very handsome elevator in the early morning light. In its details it looked like a Tillotson elevator, except for the rectilinear head house, which is not unknown for a Tillotson or Mayer Osborn built elevator, but would be unusual.
As the shift started, I stopped at the elevator office to ask about the builder. The worker smiled and pointed out the brass plaque by the door. It was built by our grandfathers’ arch rival company, the ubiquitous Chalmers and Borton based in Hutchinson, Kansas. Gary Rich pointed out one time that it seemed that wherever he found a J.H. Tillotson or Mayer Osborn elevator out in Kansas or Colorado, hard beside it would stand a Chalmers and Borton annex. The companies played hard ball and competed for every contract. Dad said, when I asked if Grandpa’s Mayer Osborn Construction of Denver, Colorado ever worked with Chalmers and Borton, that “oh, no, they were his biggest competitor.”
The elevator at Greenwood, Nebraska, built by Tillotson Construction of Omaha, is very reminiscent in its style to the elevator in American Falls. I guess form followed function, and each company offered a product similar in its details–often the deciding factor was the bid price. This Chalmers and Borton elevator certainly faked me out. But it stands as a beautiful example and deserves notice.