Newspaper Clippings: Quaker Oats in the Delta

A while back on a trip up into the Delta, I swung through the little town of Drew to check out the Lil’ Red Schoolhouse, and then drove up the street into downtown Drew. Drew, of course, is famous as the hometown of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, who has now become even more famous as the father of two NFL quarterbacks. Anyway, I’ve been through Drew a couple of times, but for some reason, I had never noticed this interesting concrete structure that even I, no Midwesterner, recognized as a grain elevator.

I stuck these pictures on my hard drive, not really sure what to do with them, and then as luck would have it, I stumbled on a photo and explanatory caption in the Bolivar Commercial, July 19, 1946 issue, while looking for something else. The photo referenced is in Greenville, but was so horrible, being a copy from a microfilm, that it wasn’t worth reproducing here. However, the text explains the structure I found in Drew.

Something New In The Delta

This modern grain elevator signifies the trend toward diversified agriculture in the Mississippi Delta. Pictured above is the Quaker Oats grain elevator at Greenville, Miss. which is one of three constructed this spring in the Mississippi Delta by The Quaker Oaks Company. The others are at Clarksdale and Drew and are of the same modern design and construction. These are among the first grain marketing plants to be erected in the state and give the Delta planters a cash market for their grains plus many other farming services such as custom seed cleaning and treating and grain moisture testing.

This Drew elevator looked vacant, so I wonder if all of the above have been by-passed for some new technology or if Quaker Oats didn’t find the Delta as profitable as it had hoped? I know the Clarksdale elevator is still there right in downtown by the railroad tracks, but I’m not sure that it’s in use. Can’t picture where the Greenville elevator is/was, but maybe one of our Greenville readers can help us out there.

In Montana, I once toured a house made out of an old grain bin. I wonder how these concrete elevators could be adapted?

Not mentioned in the Bolivar Commercial is the grain elevator now peaking out from the background of the new MissPres header, a photo taken in the tiny Holmes County community of Thornton. Maybe the Thornton elevator was a later addition to the Quaker Oats brand in the Delta, or maybe it was another company’s. Hopefully the research genies will answer that question down the road!



Categories: Cool Old Places, Delta, Industrial

6 replies

  1. I remember reading about this adaptive reuse project of a grain silo. The removal of so much exterior historic fabric probably wouldn’t be allowable for tax incentives today.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaker_Square

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  2. On the internet, there is the following for Drew.
    Ruleville-Drew Grain Elevator CO Inc
    Category: Grain Elevators
    Users Rating:
    (662) 745-8787
    3887 Highway 49
    Drew, MS 38737

    I could not easily find anything for Clarksdale.

    Likewise, I could not find anything regarding Thornton, Mississippi’s grain elevator. However, that search revealed that in Thornton Colorado the Eastlake Grain Elevator has been preserved and put on the National Register. http://www.cityofthornton.net/Departments/CommunityServices/OpenSpace/Pages/EastlakeGrainElevator.aspx

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    • I think (copout word) in Clarksdale the ole’ Grain Elevator is behind the Delta Blues Museum/Ground Zero Nightclub, visible from downtown. Unfortunately the huge mural and ad was painted over in the last couple of years. Sad.

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  3. Love the water tank! Did you ever do a story on water tanks?

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  4. A post on http://ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com/2012/02/02/construction-boom/ brings up an interesting tidbit. “Through the Forties and Fifties… [ the Federal government] went so far as to prohibit all commercial building in the nation at one point, excepting elevators!” I wonder if that would have prompted Quaker Oats to build its Mississippi elevators mainly on speculation with a nice size subsidy from the Feds?

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