New Book Examines American Grain Elevators

"The American Grain Elevator: Function & Form" takes a close look at the American grain elevator

The American Grain Elevator Cover

"The American Grain Elevator: Function & Form" is both a nostalgic look back at the now often lonely rural grain elevator and an informative tutorial in all things related to the simple structure.

Photo courtesy Grain Elevator Press

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Linda Laird’s interest in old grain elevators is hardly limited to memorabilia. She also is the author of The American Grain Elevator: Function & Form. Packed with color photographs and meticulously detailed illustrations, the book is both a nostalgic look back at the now often lonely rural grain elevator and an informative tutorial in all things related to the simple structure.

The book opens with a concise overview of development of grain elevators in America, and from there progresses through the impact of farmers’ cooperatives, a construction boom spurred by federal policies, elevator types, examination of how the elevator structure functions, basic elements of storage, grain transport, improved elevator cars, construction and design considerations, and a thorough discussion of material selection. Did you know that elevators have been built of wood, metal cladding, brick, ceramic tile, concrete block, iron, steel and concrete?

Dozens of elevators are captured in handsome photos taken by the author. Historic photos present another perspective. A fascinating series of photos traces construction of a massive, 1 million-bushel elevator in Dodge City, Kan., in 1955. The project was completed in seven days – with concrete poured ‘round the clock for a week.

Laird’s book focuses largely on elevators in Kansas. But no matter where you live, if you’re interested in the history of grain storage you will find this an interesting and enjoyable read. FC 

The American Grain Elevator: Function & Form, Linda Laird, 2012, Grain Elevator Press, Hutchinson, Kan.; 112 pages, softcover, color photographs and black-and-white illustrations. To purchase the book, contact the author at (520) 393-0623 or the publisher at Grain Elevator Press. 

Read more about grain elevators in Relics From Grain Elevators.