What’s the deal with the metal silos?

I love driving the back roads of the Mississippi Delta. Even if there aren’t any buildings or people, there’s always the landscape to take pictures of, and the sky. I especially love coming up on agricultural buildings, gins, the rare old barn, concrete grain elevators, and silos. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of these smaller metal silos, usually connected in a group of 4 or 5, and I need the help of knowledgeable Delta folks to explain what these are? I took these pictures up in Quitman County a few weeks ago, north of Sledge, and I like them for this post because the new metal silos are right near the old concrete grain elevator/silos. Are the metal silos replacing the concrete silos? Were the concrete silos a co-op while the metal silos are owned by an individual farmer? Are they for soybeans? Rice? Catfish?–no, I’m not that ignorant. Why are all the concrete grain elevators I see abandoned? (This beautiful one in Lubbock, TX, with 128 slipformed concrete silos was demolished in 2004, according to wikipedia.)

I hope that readers will educate me and the rest of the MissPres universe by commenting below. If you know what’s the deal with the metal silos, or the concrete silos/elevator, or both, this is your chance to shine!

New metal silos with abandoned concrete silos across railroad tracks in the background.

New metal silos with abandoned concrete silos across railroad tracks in the background.

Concrete silos next to railroad tracks north of Sledge, Quitman County

Concrete silos next to railroad tracks north of Sledge, Quitman County

Concrete silo next to railroad tracks with an office building to far left.

Concrete silo next to railroad tracks with an office building to far left.

Concrete silos

Concrete silos



Categories: Delta, Urban/Rural Issues

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6 replies

  1. The new ones are for corn storage.

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  2. The new metal silos are much larger, with faster and more modern equipment. The 1950s concrete silos in Florence, Alabama which I went past every day as a youth were demolished in 2014 after sixty years of service and replaced with some large, garish metal ones. The old silos held 12,500 bushels, while the new ones range in capacity from 50,000 to 475,000, for 800,000 bushels in all. In Alabama’s case, the Alabama Farmers Cooperative paid for Florence and a few other cities’ silo replacements.

    Unfortunately, it is hard to get people too worked up about concrete grain silos in regards to their architectural significance and possible need for preservation when large numbers of people have still not been convinced that antebellum and Victorian houses/mansions/buildings should be preserved.

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  3. On a recent road trip from Arizona to Iowa (through Dalhart, TX, OK, MO, and IA) we saw a lot of both concrete and metal. Being that I’ve lived most of my life in the southwest, I was immediately enchanted with the structures and we took tons of photos. We did see a lot of the metal, I was assuming it was due to the same reasons the folks said previously, more modern, and the fact that the largest crops, at least where we were, were corn and soybeans – perhaps its better for them. Anyhow, I too loved the concrete ones and would love to share some photos once I download them. Thanks for another great post!

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  4. I would speculate that you will find concrete silos peculiar to the South and its dairy industry–particularly the Prairie region of Mississippi where Kraft and Borden’s had processing plants. Grain silage(corn and milo) for dairy cows is acidic and would tend to cause metal silos to rust through. Our family had a concrete silo and a ground silo for grain silage. My father took down a concrete silo near Columbus and hauled it twenty miles to Crawford where he and few milk hands re-assembled it. It still stands on 45 Alt on the right as you cross over the M&O RR. bridge going north.. My father had resurrection in his blood. He had fabricated is own tools to lift those heavy concrete plates and set them in place. The scaffolding was on the inside of the silo and a safety net just in case.

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  5. As an aside, the Butler Building you know so well began as one of the first grain bin manufacturers. They branched into prefab buildings about 1910 but older grain bins with the familiar oval Butler logo can still be found in
    BTW: we just finished designing a house with Sandy McNeal using three grain bins and a truncated Quonsi hut. Much fun!
    Bob Adams

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  6. There is a very important reinforced concrete silo in metropolitan Minneapolis. Called “Peavy’s Folly” locally, it allegedly drew the attention of Le Corbusier. It’s now on the National Register. see: http://focus.nps.gov/GetAsset?assetID=ea2be2f1-fcd6-4927-9c16-ad0157c038cb

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