Featured in Prairie Elevators – Apr 1, 2013
Featured in The World As We See It, or as we missed it – Feb 15, 2011
Location: Morse, Saskatchewan, Canada
You have a landscape in the Great Plains that’s pretty flat and you’ve got these tall magnificent buildings that in a way are like the mountains.
In the 1870s, wooden grain elevators began cropping up alongside railroad tracks in nearly every farming community. During the harvest, farmers hauled their wheat, corn, barley and oats by horse-drawn wagons to the elevators where the grain was weighed, bought, stored and shipped by rail to buyers.
Designed for function without any architectural frills, the wooden elevators sometimes were sided with metal for fire protection. They were dubbed “prairie cathedrals” because they towered like steeples over the treeless plains.
The wooden elevators started going out of favor in the early 1900s because of so many fires and because concrete became popular.
At their peak in the 1930s, about 27,000 grain elevators of all types—wooden, brick, tile and concrete—dotted the Canadian and American countryside. Today, about a third of those remain.