An Elevator's Life And Death

by

Tommy Twamley

 

Long ago, in the St. Vincent farming area, there were twoelevators in operation. One was the Red Lake Falls Milling Company. Theother was the St. Anthony & Dakota Elevator Company.

The St. Anthony & Dakota Elevator Company had a coalshed, and a lumber shed, besides the main elevator in operation.

These elevators were both located at what was known asthe "Y", one mile east of St. Vincent on the Great Northern Railroad.

But one of these companies, the St. Anthony & DakotaElevator Company, expressed a wish to sell their Elevator and equipmentabout 1918.

News of their wish to sell spread rapidly. It wasn't longbefore some of the more prosperous farmers in the area started turning theireyes from their overflowing grain bins to the roomy elevator.

Some of the farmers got together and decided to buy theelevator for their own and other farmers use.

The names of the ones who formed the corporation are asfollows: W. N. Gamble, Wm. Ash, W. E. Ford, John Webster, and R. H. Lapp.All of these men were from the St. Vincent area.

These community leaders had made a big decision and onFebruary sixth of nineteen-nineteen they owned the elevator, coal, and lumbersheds.

The first stock was sold to Mr. Gamble. He bought 5 sharesat the rate of $100 a share. Soon other farmers of the community had purchasedenough shares to warrant a stockholders meeting.

The meeting was held in a room above the Farmers ImplementCompany, in the month of April. The meeting was more of a convention thana meeting. It lasted from April 19th thru April 22nd. Then another meetingwas held on the 26th.

During these meetings the Articles and Bylaws were drawnup and approved. The Board of Directors were also elected. From the Boardthey also elected officers.

The list of those on the Board and in office goes as follows:W. N. Gamble - President, John Duff - Vice President, H. W. Davis - Secretary,and Otto Thornson -Treasurer. The other members on the Board were: Wm. Clinton,George Cowan, Thomas Ash and Wm. Ash.

They filed the Articles and the Bylaws with the State ofMinnesota on March 31, 1919. Kittson County was filed with on April 4, 1919.

The elevator they had bought was quite modern for its time.It had a 32 volt battery plant for lights and a gasoline engine suppliedthe power.

The gasoline engine was not unlike the old Titans usedin the logging camps of this time period. These type of engines were a singlecylinder affair which fired once every 30 seconds. When they did fire theymade a loud "WHOOSH".

The first meeting of the Director's Board was on July 10thof 1920. The books showed that they had made a net profit of $l3,396.95.More average years were: l926-$l,638.62, l929 - $1,877.23, and 1934 - $4,443.71.

As most companies do, they had a poor year which was in1928. In this year they netted only $99l.38.

But like most companies, they had a good year, too. Thisyear was 1961. There were 922,409 bushels of grain handled and the net marginwas a fabulous $36,987.60.

Probably one of the reasons they made so much more in lateryears than they had made in early ones is that they had a knack for expanding.By the later years of the Company's existence it was not running just one,but several elevators.

Besides the elevator at the "Y", it also ownedone at Sultan, on the Soo Line east of Noyes.

The company had been selling its grain to the St. Anthony& Dakota Commission company but on February 26, 1931 they decided totransfer their grain handling to the McCabe Brothers Commission Company.However, at their next meeting, they decided to transfer again to the BensonQuinn Commission Company. It has remained in the Benson Quinn Company'shands ever since then.

Even with their elevator in operation, the farmers in thearea were still over producing their handling capacity. On October 21, 1939,a contract was signed to move the Sultan house to the St. Vincent site tobe used as a cleaning house.

The setup was now superb. It had all it needed to do efficientbusiness, except for one thing. The lighting system had grown inadequate.The power companies which were slowly taking over the job of supplying lightsand power to the area offered a more efficient means for the elevator.

On February 4, 1947 the Otter Tail Power Company was signedto supply power to the elevator.

As with all company buildings it seems that just when youget them in perfect running order the building is old. This is what happenedto the elevator at the "Y" site. By 1948, it was in a state ofdepreciation.

At the meeting of October 5, 1950, the Board decided tobuild a 70,000 bushel elevator, They decided to locate it on the main lineof the Great Northern Railroad, about one-half mile north of the old site.

The Hogenson Construction Company took the job. They builtthe new, modern elevator at a cost of $100,000.00.

The lumber shed, which was still in fine condition, wasmoved to the new site.

In 1953, the Company also built an 80,000 annex to thesouthern portion of the new elevator. This was done at a cost of $46,000.00.

By 1956, the farmers in the area were using a record amountof fertilizer. Now the company needed a storage area for their fertilizersupply. They built a quonset building at a cost of $8,500.00.

On the 50th anniversary of the company they were debt freewith a net margin of $24,589.02. They had handled 677,508 bushels of grain.Besides all this, they had the loyal support of the community, and stilldo.

Being a shrewd company, they kept the old elevator as atax deduction until recently.

In the fall of 1971, the unsalvable parts of the old elevatorwere burned to the ground. The old Elevator had served its purpose in buildingour community. It had in a way, really lived. It has been said that whileit was in operation there were often trucks waiting in long lines to puttheir grain in the huge bulk of the Elevator.

Trucks no longer block the road leading to the Elevator'sremains. The railroad tracks are gone, too.

The company could look back and say, "Here stood agood elevator." But it does not.

A company cannot look back at its achievements, it canonly strive forward to bigger and better things. And the St. Vincent ElevatorCompany is doing just that!

 

Bibliography

50th Anniversary Booklet from the St. Vincent ElevatorCo. c 1968

Ward, Lawrence, Interview January 14, 1972SIZE=+1>50th Anniversary Booklet from the St. Vincent ElevatorCo. c 1968

Ward, Lawrence, Interview January 14, 1972