Created By: Old Cowtown Museum
The Grain Elevator and Scale House located in the Industrial Area of Old Cowtown Museum represents the role of agriculture in Sedgwick County and agribusiness in Wichita. As farming moved from subsistence to industrial production farmers needed an offsite place to store large quantities of grain until they could be sold. During harvest time in the late 1870's, Wichita's streets were jammed with horse-drawn wagons filled with grain waiting their turn to unload at one of eight grain elevators.
After weighing, the wagons full of grain were driven up the west ramp into the elevator. The grain was unloaded and lifted to the top of the building where it was distributed into bins. Railroad cars at the side of the elevator were loaded by gravity from the bins above. Farmers who came to purchase grain drove their wagons inside to be loaded from the overhead bins by way of a canvas chute.
Elevators were some of the first industrial applications of steam power, though with the fear of grain dust explosions, the plants were often in buildings removed from the elevator.
Prices for storage and captive high prices for freight by the railroads brought the Grange into existence and political activity by farmers.
The 50-foot tall grain elevator at Old Cowtown Museum typifies rural elevators of this era.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour