Types of Grain Elevators
Learn about the different types of grain elevators and how much grain storage capacity varies from one to the other.
“The American Grain Elevator” by Linda Laird documents the untold story of grain elevators through 86 full-color photographs and sections on the variety of materials used in the Midwest from the 1800s to today. Read how these wonderful and fascinating buildings are integral to our farm heritage.
Courtesy Grain Elevator Press
From country elevators to terminal elevators, grain elevators have graced the Midwest landscape and beyond for many years. The American Grain Elevator (Grain Elevator Press, 2012) by Linda Laird celebrates these unique utilitarian structures with over 150 illustrations and the story of how grain storage began and how elevators were invented. Discover the different types of grain elevators and how their purposes in history have transformed due to the ever-changing grain market. This excerpt is taken from the chapter “The American Grain Belt.”
Three types of grain elevators function in the grain market.
Country elevators vary in size from 30,000 bushels to more than one million bushels and serve as a collection and buying point in rural communities or along railroad lines. They provide short term storage for the farmer to allow him to take advantage of fluctuating prices in the grain market. Shipping to a terminal is usually by railroad although as shortline railroads in the mid-west are ending service and pulling up rails, grain is increasingly moved from isolated country elevators by truck. Some drying and cleaning of grain may occur in country elevators, as well as limited blending and mixing of grains.
The immediate shipment of grain through intermediate facilities became necessary as grain production yields increased after World War II. Country elevators no longer had the capacity to hold the grain that farmers brought in increasing quantities. This led to the development of shipping centers at intermediate points outside the traditional export terminals.