Gallatin County boasted twenty-seven grain elevators in 1915, a testament to farming’s important economic role. Despite drought and low commodity prices, Montana Mercantile added this towering elevator to the Bozeman skyline in 1933. It added the warehouse portion a few years later. Situated next to the train tracks and the Bon Ton Flour Mill, the elevator expressed the wholesaler’s faith in Montana’s agricultural future. The building was one of very few grain elevators constructed during the Great Depression between Minneapolis and Seattle. Concrete elevators had become increasingly popular after 1920, but the wooden MISCO grain elevator was built using a much older “crib technique.” To create walls strong enough to resist the pressure of thousands of tons of grain, carpenters stacked planks two inches tall and six inches wide, joining them with spikes and overlapping them at the corners. Narrower two-by-fours were used above the shoulder. Large sliding doors let farmers drive loaded trucks onto a scale above the “boot,” where they dumped their harvest. A vertical belt and bucket conveyor would then lift the grain up to the cupola (or head house), from where it traveled to a storage bin. There it remained until elevator operators loaded it into railway freight cars for shipment out of state. In 1956, the Missoula Mercantile sold the elevator to businessman Walter Teslow. When the elevator was built, Teslow oversaw its construction as the manager of Missoula Mercantile’s eastern division. By 1956, he had his own business, operating eighteen grain elevators across the state.

Images

Map

700 North Wallace Avenue, Bozeman, Montana ~ Private