I have been out of town camping for a few days. We have been to some nice locations. The bugs are out in force, and there is a lot of standing water. I have no doubt that Saskatchewan is most likely the mosquito capital of the world. At some spots we have been literally swarmed by the little bastards.
As we are driving around, I am always looking out for these majestic structures that stand proud on the flat prairie that surrounds them. They serve as beacons in the fields. There is some real history here. These old wooden structures have been around a very long time. These days the modern era has ushered in bulk grain storage in concrete silos that are very impressive, but really lack the aesthetic beauty of their predecessors.
They are almost always labelled with the name of the town in big capital letters on the side. These structures are located by a rail line. Depending on the location there may be one, two or more of these elevators in a row, and sometimes you see the different eras being represented in one site, perhaps timber, iron and concrete.
Its hard not to feel a sense of romantic nostalgia with these buildings. It makes me imagine the times the district has seen. Normally, they are located in each town, so there is a lot of them. Before bulk storage and bulk transport and bulk everything else, the local farmer would perhaps transport their grain to these elevators to be railed to the market, where ever that might be. A group of farmers would likely form a co-op and perhaps even fund one of these facilities to service the district.
Some of them are in good condition – especially those lined with sheet galvanized steel, but some of the old timber ones are really starting to deteriorate.
We came by one that just begged to be explored. The town was small and quiet. There was no one around to tell us not to explore. I sided around the building and walked along the rail line to access the back of the elevator. There was a service platform with a rickety old ladder attached to it. I hoisted my weight onto the rotten boards and gingerly crept along the edge. I tried the sliding timber doors, and viola, they opened!
Inside I could make out a room with a number of handles – to control the chutes I suppose. There were side openings and timber chutes etc. Birds had taken over the interior and droppings were everywhere. There was a mildy dusty and musky smell. I continued into the building and was able to walk around inside and even access an upper level via a set of internal stairs. Out of the weather, this old elevator was in really great shape.
We found another one, perhaps a bit more modern, but all the same beautiful. We could see it from the nearby highway and it drew us in, following a turn off and some back roads to get right up close. When we were there we took a bunch of photos and messed around on the rail wagons. Simple, country fun!