Effort to Save What is Possibly Iowa’s Oldest Grain Elevator

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ROSS, Iowa -- The Iowa Barn Foundation has granted a $25,000 matching grant to restore what is believed to be Iowa's oldest grain elevator.

The Ross Elevator is located in tiny Ross, Iowa north of Audubon. It is believed the Ross Elevator was built in 1882.  An expert from the Country Grain Elevator Historical Society told the owner of the elevator he believes this structure is the oldest such in Iowa. The reasons making it the oldest include its limestone foundation, and it is on the side of a hill, as well as some of the architectural features of the elevator.

Owner Bob Nelson purchased the elevator, as it was near his property. The Omaha native did not know much about elevators, so after some research he found how important they were to developing towns and agriculture in Iowa.

"It's such an important piece of history, it's a landmark," said Nelson.  "It's been here for 130 years, we want it around for another 100 years."

Nelson wondered if it would be even possible to restore the elevator. He had a contractor go through the facility, and tell him, that yes it would most likely work to repair the structure's foundation.

The Iowa Barn Foundation sent representatives to take a look as well. They awarded the $25,000 matching grant. Nelson and his wife worked to raise the matching $25,000.

A contractor that was hired told him he could not only lift the structure to repair the foundation, but he could also tell Nelson what the elevator would weigh.

That information gave Nelson an idea, people could donate money to the effort to Save The Ross Elevator and guess the weight. Whoever gets the closest to the actual weight of the Ross Elevator will have their name on a plaque in the structure.

Nelson said he is not sure what the end use for the restored Ross Elevator will be. He's had suggestions like, an artist's studio, or to brew beer.

"Any number of ideas will come along," said Nelson. "We'll have the next 100 years to think about it if we just keep it from falling down."

The elevator could be lifted as early as next Tuesday, so there is still time to guess the weight, and help provide funds for further restoration.

If you would like more information on the Ross Elevator, click the contest link on the Save the Ross website.