“Against the blue sky, its rusting central silos look like rising smoke meeting the last minutes of a sunset. These give way to a corrugated night sky of blue gray, punched-through with staggered four-pane windows, all glassless.”
Note the tiled floor between the bucket conveyors and an old mill.
One evening I spent an hour lighting tea candles through the tunnels below the elevator. It was a magical transformation.
This sea leg was installed to unload grain boats. It’s pretty much a big bucket elevator that can be moved and lowered into waiting boats.
Before developers saw to cut and cut the flour mills inside Pillsbury, they stood at the ready beside various purposeful chutes the traversed the floors of between sorters. These machines were belt-driven by the power of Pillsbury’s Mississippi headraces and turbines, the force of which notoriously shook the building’s foundations themselves. The wheels would change the grade of the flour, or the size of the dust produced from crushing the kernels.
Behind the barge unloader (a Webster for those grain tech nerds out here) that used to extract grain from docked boats. The ladders are fun to climb, even though they get warped and wavy in places. High in the elevator would have been a crane engine that would lift the unloader, packed with a bucket conveyor, while workers would manipulate the direction of the spout with ropes manually. The buckets would rotate, scraping and elevating the grain into the silos above. It’s a rare piece of equipment for the Great Lakes.
With the maintenance door open you can see the buckets on in the vertical conveyor.
All of the bucket conveyors crashed on this work floor when their casings were scrapped. Note all of the valves to open the grain flow.
About a second after the explosives were triggered.
A reminder to the manlift riders to get off the belt before they hit their heads on the ceiling. This is the top level of the headhouse, where dust collectors would extract most of the grain bits from the air to reduce risk of explosion.
A photo from the early 2000s before the conveyors were scrapped.