Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grain Elevators - As They Were (Part Two)

From L to R - Lake Erie, City Ship Canal, Peck Slip, Buffalo River - Connecting Terminal Elevator (left)
Lyons Elevator (Center), Wilkeson (right 2 towers) C.J. Wells (far right)  (click photo to enlarge)
Buffalo Morning Express May 14, 1899 (continued)
   The elevators are of two kinds: those which store the grain and those which merely transfer it directly from lake vessels to canal boat or car.  The storage elevators are in principle all alike.  Their vast enclosure is given up to huge bins for the storing of grain; machinery for the weighing and moving of grain; in some cases apparatus for cleaning or drying grain; and steam engines to furnish motive power for the whole. The transfer towers have merely the machinery for transferring the grain; they perform an office like that of moveable cranes.   The elevators as already mentioned, might be compared to huge mosquitos.  
Marine "Leg" at Watson Elevator - Union & Bennett
Elevators in Back L to R
    They plunge a bill-like "leg" (marine leg-Ed.) into the vessels to extract the grain. The old elevators had one leg, the newer ones have two or three.  These legs play within a narrow slit, and can be moved up and down so as to be lowered into the holds of steamers. The leg of an elevator contains an endless belt studded at short intervals by cups or buckets.  The leg is thrust a little distance into the grain in the hold of a boat; the belt begins to turn, and the cups scoop up the grain and carry it into the building. First the grain goes into bins where it is weighed in bulk, then it is carried to other bins for storage. The main purpose of the Buffalo elevators is to take the grain from lake vessels and put it into railroad cars or canalboats for transportation to the seaboard.  Many of the elevators can unload into either cars or canalboats, some into canalboats alone.  The apparatus for emptying the grain from the bin into the canalboat or car is very simple.  The grain runs by its own weight from the bin overhead through a tube or chute into the car or boat below.
City Ship Canal Looking North From the Frontier Elevator - Center of Picture Small "Pointed" Structure
is a Transfer Tower, no Storage Capacity - Connecting Terminal Elevator on Left - Lyon Elevator on
 right - Watson Elevator in background with cupola
Joseph Dart
  In the handling of grain, as in other employments of man, there has been a gradual development of machinery and a corresponding lessoning of the proportion of human labor. All grain was once taken from the holds of vessels by the slow process of shoveling it into barrels, hoisting it by a tackle, weighing it in a hopper and scales swung over the hatchway of the craft, and carrying it into the warehouse on men's shoulders. Joseph Dart was the man who put an end to this slow and vexatious method, and on the wharves of Buffalo he erected the first steam storage and transfer elevator in the world. He built this elevator in 1842-43 on the Banks of the Buffalo River at it's junction with the Evans Ship Canal, where later rose the big Bennett Elevator.  In it he successfully applied the old elevator and conveyor principle which had been in use for half a century in the mills. The Dart Elevator had at first a capacity of but 55,000 bushels, but this was doubled three years afterward. In it's first year it unloaded about 230,000 bushels of grain.
   From this little Dart Elevator have sprung
Model of Dart Elevator
the elevators of today. There have been a gradual growth in size, and an improvement of methods, but the principle remains the same as 50 years ago. (same principle used till 2003-Ed.) The Dart Elevator was burned in 1862 or 1863, and fire has destroyed many of it's descendants, yet some of the most active elevators of today date from the 60's. Most of the elevators have wooden bins, and all, or nearly all, are covered alike with corrugated iron. The newest elevators differ, however, from the old ones, much as the modern steel-frame office buildings differ from the old style office buildings.  The new elevators are of steel, and their bins are great steel cylinders. 

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