Travel any highway in rural America, chances are you'll pass through a small town and most likely see a grain elevator. Stretching to the sky, these concrete country high rises  house the harvest of the fields as it waits for a ride on rail to places around the world. As I write this, the rural skyline is changing in a quiet little town along Interstate 90.

I grew up in Kennebec, South Dakota, home of an awesome small town elevator. I'm not sure why, but I was proud of it. I liked how our little town had such a huge structure. I imagine it's like living in Chicago or New York  and the pride they must have in their tall buildings.

When I was younger I remember many trips to load or unload grain. One day, my Dad came back and said, 'hey, you want to go up to the top? I've arranged it if you would like. I said YES!

I'm not sure who took us up. Probably Jim Schmidt. But oh, when we got to the top the look down below was crazy!  Back then, Kennebec main street looked a bit different. The hotel was still up on the corner down below. You could see the whole town!  I remember throwing a small rock off the top and waiting to hear it hit down below. It was awesome!

Before that time, I remember when construction crews built on the huge addition to the west of the main structure.  It was cool riding the bus to school every day and watching the building grow and grow seemingly to the sky. It was a great part of growing up that I remember to this day.

Today, Kennebec is growing again. The railroad is being refurbished to accommodate grain trains and The SD Wheat Growers Association is building an impressive plant on the west edge of town. If you've been to Aberdeen, SD you've seen a facility that is probably quite similar. But when you put a build of this size next to a small town it's an eye catcher.

The economy of Kennebec and surrounding towns will benefit from the plant too. Workers on the the build have to eat and a place to live while working on the project. Earlier this year I was talking with some Kennebec friends and their excitement was obvious. When you talk about infusing many jobs as this will, it's just plain good. Good for the town, good for the county!  According to

Kennebec Grain Terminal Slip Facts:

  • 4,450 yrds of concrete

  • 1,350,000 lbs of rebar in the slip

  • Slipform moves about 1” every 4-5 minutes

  • Slip will take about 112 hrs or 4 ½ days

  • 180 hydraulic jacks raise the slipform deck Forms are built from 3/8” plywood. Hand-crafted specifically for this project.

  • (2) 12 hr shifts with 165 workers per shift

A couple weeks ago I was back home and noticed the changing scenery. The view from the backyard from the house I grew up in was much different. With much of the structure already in place, the view to the east along Medicine Creek is changing and the sunrise view will forever be different.

Now, when you're making a trip across the state on I-90, you'll have a new landmark to check out on the way by. The new South Dakota Wheat Growers facility going up in Kennebec, South Dakota. Changing  the landscape in South Central South Dakota.

2015-10-12 17.45.57
Pic by Carl Brakke,



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