Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Back in Time - Farmer's Union Co-op

former Farmer's Union Co-op 
presently Cenex
December 2014
The doors to the railroad locking docks have been barred for years, but once these portals were open and the warehouse bustling with individuals unloading freight and feed, running the auger to unload/load grain, beans, or corn. The Co-op was the lifeblood of the agricultural community surrounding Riverton. Of course, there were other grain elevators in town, i.e., Hughes Elevator, and the Farmer's Exchange, but the Co-op outlived them all.

I remember how cool the building was in the summer, the air swirling with grain dust, and the scents that were earthy, familiar, and comforting. Farm trucks loaded with oats, beans, corn, and other crops were weighed and unloaded on the other side of the building. Other times the trucks were filled from the various bins within the building or the adjacent silos. The south end housed salt and mineral blocks, milk replacer, large bags of dog/cat food, canvas dams, and baling twine.

Later an office building with larger scales was added along Federal Blvd. This building also housed a shop in the back where mechanics repaired tires and changed oil. The front section of the new building offered veterinarian medicines and salves, and an assortment of hand tools, but it was the elevator that was the flagship of the Co-op. It is still standing and utilized.

My Dad was a member of the National Farmer's Union Co-op, and anything that was needed for the farm was purchased at the Co-op, if it was available. I remember attending Farmer's Union meetings at the Grange Hall in Pavillion, Farmer's Union picnics at Diversion Dam, Farmer's Union camps at the Fremont County Fairgrounds during the summer.


10 comments:

  1. My Grandparents lived in northern Montana and I saw these there.

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  2. Lot's of co-ops are still thriving in this part of South Dakota, but not Farmers Union necessarily. And those elevators are still the big hub of many small towns. My husband's uncle owned and operated a private elevator in Fedora SD many years ago and this photo reminds me of how it looked many years ago.

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  3. That brings back such fond memories, and smells too. I used to ride my horse by the co-op, and the smell of freshly harvested wheat was so sweet.

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  4. I love your little history lessons! They are wonderful

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  5. Interesting post, Nancy! Nice photo, too.

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  6. There is no other occupation in this country that is more honorable and noble than farming, and the co-op building is beautiful architecture! Thanks for sharing yet another wonderful photo!

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  7. This photo immediately took me back to the 50's and 60's when I would be riding in the truck with Dad and waiting at Farmer's Exchange for grain to be loaded. You described the air at the Co-op - and it was the same at the other elevators. The sights and smells around these old buildings that were once part of my childhood are perfectly described in your post.

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  8. Beautiful old building. The co-op system is floundering here too. The one we used - ironically, in the heart of downtown - closed many years ago. It's hard for me to go past that intersection and look at all the development where I first carried a 50-lb bag of feed, jumped off the loading dock, etc. I loved loading up sweet feed and rabbit pellets, and getting a Coca-cola for the ride home with Dad.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

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  9. I absolutely love these old elevators! They are becoming a thing of the past!!

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