A Tillotson elevator overlooks the 76th Dayton Championship Rodeo grounds


The Dayton, Iowa, rodeo grounds bustle with activity for the championship event.

Story and photos by Kristen Cart

The Dayton, Iowa, elevator is an especially handsome one, built in a typical Tillotson style. It is one of an overwhelming majority of Tillotson elevators that are still in use. It is quite an achievement to build something so enduring.


Modern updates are evident in this view.

One of the secrets of the longevity of concrete elevators of this type is the ability to upgrade the machinery and to expand capacity. The elevators were built with the understanding that they would soon be filled and would need additional bins. The Tillotson Construction Company revisited certain sites over and over as they added concrete annexes and other improvements, while occasionally other companies won the contracts.


The feed mill stands to the right.

You can see that the concrete elevator was retrofitted with an external leg. This modification is a safer design than the old internal one, because accumulated grain dust cannot come into contact with overheated machinery if a bearing or belt fails. Metal bins were added for additional capacity. A feed mill complements the storage facility, completing a one-stop shop for farmers.

The Dayton elevator’s original construction was not without trouble, however. Tillotson Construction Company was compelled to pay for repairs after the elevator cracked under its original grain load. The Farmers Elevator Company sued, according to the Farmers Elevator Guide, in 1954. The repairs were expertly done and the elevator still stands today.

Settling and cracking leads to suit against Tillotson Construction

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...

Dayton—Farmers Elevator Company has filed suit in federal court at Fort Dodge, Iowa, asking $92,120 from Tillotson Construction Co., Omaha, Neb.

The cooperative also is seeking a court order for the removal by the construction firm of a new 150,000-bushel elevator at Dayton. An alternate request included in the petition asks that if the court does not grant the damages and order the structure removed, that it should determine amount needed to place elevator in condition to conform with the contract between the companies and to grant that amount to the Dayton cooperative.

The petition charges that “due to faulty plans and construction the elevator is unsafe for use and in dangerous condition and is liable at any time to collapse.” The elevator was completed in September 1954 and less than a month later “settled, cracked and broke in numerous places,” the Dayton company alleges in the petition.

At the time the elevator was found to be damaged it was loaded with 110,000 bushels of corn and 30,000 bushels of beans.

Farmers’ Elevator Guide, v.48-50, 1953-55 p. 61