Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Dakota

On page 215 of American Colossus and in the caption for Figure 2, I mention the Dakota, a steel-binned grain elevator built in Buffalo in 1901. As we can see from the pictures above, the Dakota was erected next to the Great Eastern Elevator (to the left), another steel-binned elevator built in 1901, and the Frontier Elevator (on the right), an elevator with bins made of reinforced concrete, built in the 1920s. Directly in front of the Dakota stands the land upon which the historic Watson Elevator used to stand.

Designed by Ballou & Shirley and built by the Eagle Iron Works, the Dakota was clearly an experiment, half-bold and half-tentative. It could only store 1.25 million bushels, utilized rectangular grain tanks, and enclosed these bins in a tall and narrow rectangular warehouse made of steel. The gallery above the tanks was itself two stories high and surmounted by a large clerestory, which gave the entire structure a distinctive "hammer-head" silhouette. Both of the Dakota's marine towers were automotive ("loose"). The entire complex was razed in the mid-1960s, during the construction of an elevated highway.

In the same way that the Great Eastern was built upon a foundation made of reinforced concrete and intended to replace a wood-binned elevator that had been destroyed by a grain-dust explosion, the Dakota was built (by the Lehigh Railroad) to replace a wood-binned elevator of the same name (see below) that was built in 1887, could store 1 millions bushels and was brought down by a grain-dust explosion in 1901.

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