Earliest Grain Traffic Westward -- Erie Canal Changes The Current -- First Shipments From Lake Michigan -- How Early Cargoes Were Handled -- First Grain Elevator At Chicago -- Growth Of The Trade -- Railway Competition -- Shipments From Chicago -- Shipments From Milwaukee -- The Grain Belt -- Freight Rates -- Grain Commerce At Buffalo -- A Canadian Grain Route -- Grain Elevators At Duluth, Etc. -- At Chicago -- At Buffalo -- At Erie And Elsewhere.
IN point of tonnage the grain traffic on the Great Lakes for the year 1897 exceeded all previous records. In round numbers, it may be stated that fully 20 per cent. of the entire lake trade is included in the cereals, which are transported from the fertile and almost boundless grain fields of the Northwest to the crowded marts of the Atlantic seacoast and of Europe.
The earliest grain traffic on the Great Lakes was westward. In the early decades of the present century the west-bound emigration crowded so swiftly upon the heels of time that sustenance, save that afforded by the wilderness, was insufficient. It was not long after the completion of the Erie canal that an east-bound traffic in grain set in, which finally encompassed the entire lake region. The Erie canal grain trade, at first, originated on the banks of the canal. In 1835 all the grain arriving at Buffalo came from Ohio ports and amounted to 112,000 bushels. From that date, as shown by the statistics published on another page, the grain trade of Buffalo grew steadily.
First Shipments from Lake Michigan. -- The first shipment of grain from Lake Michigan was made in 1836. In that year 3,000 bushels of wheat were shipped from Grand river, Michigan, on the brig John Kenzie, owned by Dorr & Jones, of Detroit, and commanded by Capt. R. C. Bristol. This cargo arrived at Buffalo.
In 1838, the steamer Great Western carried from Chicago to Buffalo 39 bags of wheat, which were consigned to parties in Otsego county, N. Y. This was the first grain shipped from Chicago. In October, 1839, the brig Osceola carried down from Chicago to Kingman & Durfee, of Black Rock, 1,678 bushels of wheat, this being the first shipment of grain in bulk from that port. In 1840 a small schooner named the General Harrison, of about 100 tons, was loaded at Chicago with 3,000 bushels of wheat for Buffalo. The same year the schooner Gazelle carried from Chicago to Buffalo 3,000 bushels of wheat; the brig Erie, 2,000 bushels; and the schooners Major Oliver and Illinois, each a small cargo. From that time, down to the opening of the Illinois and Michigan canal in 1848, shipments of grain from Chicago advanced but slowly, though in 1844 Charles Walker, of Chicago, had at one time five vessels, all loaded with wheat, afloat at the same time between Chicago and Buffalo. This was considered business of great magnitude. In October and November, 1856, there were frequently reported to be as much as 650,000 bushels of wheat afloat at the same time from Chicago to Buffalo. In July of that year there were reported to be 650,000 bushels of corn afloat at one time, all from Lake Michigan ports. Most of the grain shipped from the upper lakes for Buffalo, up to 1848, was wheat, but in the latter year corn began to be carried down in large quantities.
The improvements in the way of handling grain up to this period, over the old way, by buckets, was an increase of elevators at all the principal ports of shipment. The first of these important inventions on the lakes was constructed at Buffalo by Joseph Dart during the winter of 1842-43. It was located on the north side of Buffalo creek, and was burned in 1862. The first vessel which unloaded there was the schooner Philadelphia, Capt. Charles Rogers, a vessel of about 123 tons burden, and having on board 4,515 bushels of wheat consigned to Kinney & Davis. The first cargo of corn was discharged there by the schooner South America, Capt. A. Bradley, which had on board a trifle over 3,145 bushels; the schooners H. M. Kinne, Capt. M. Capron, and Wm. Brewster, Captain Wood, arrived and discharged soon after. Beside these there were 70 others, consisting of barks, brigs and schooners, which discharged at the same elevator during the first season.
The first grain elevator at Chicago was built by Newberry & Dole in 1839. It was located at the north end of Rush street bridge. The wheat was brought from farmers' wagons, and hoisted to an upper story by old-style pulley blocks and rope, by hand power. The problem of loading grain from this elevator to the big Osceola, in 1839, was solved by fixing a spout in one of the upper doors, and making it gradually narrower till it reached the deck, where the wheat was discharged into boxes holding four bushels, weighed and transferred to the hold of the vessel. From the bins holding the wheat in the upper story a row of men was formed to the spout and the wheat was passed in buckets. The same firm soon after built another elevator, and horse power succeeded man power, a bucket-belt being used to elevate the grain. Improvements rapidly followed, and in 1848 Capt. R. C. Bristol erected the first steam elevator. In 1857 there were twelve elevators in Chicago, with a combined storage capacity of 4,095,000 bushels, but in 1855 the whole storage capacity in the city, it was estimated, did not exceed 750,000 bushels. The storage capacity of the twenty-one Chicago elevators, in 1897, was 32,150,-ooo bushels.
Chicago early acquired the ascendancy in the exportation of grain. A writer, in 1860, thus compares the trade of Chicago with that of the chief European grain-shipping ports: "When we say that Chicago exports thirty millions of bushels of grain, and is the largest market in the world, many persons doubtless believe that these are merely Western figures of speech, and not figures of arithmetic. Let us, then, compare the exports of those European cities, which have confessedly the largest grain trade, with those of Chicago:
Railway Competition. -- The advent of the railroads made quite a difference in the transportation of the early grain crops of the West. In his recent report to the Treasury Department on Lake Commerce, Dr. George G. Tunnell says: "In the early sixties the railroads began to make serious inroads into the flour traffic from Chicago, and during the eighth decade secured the lion's share of this business. Flour was the first heavy commodity of comparatively low value that the railroad carried in competition with the water lines. The railroads gained this traffic partly because shipment by lake to points not accessible to lake craft involved a transshipment, and flour could not be transferred with the same ease and facility that grain could be transshipped; partly because expeditious delivery is frequently demanded, the element of time being of much greater importance in the movement of flour than that of grain, and, finally, because flour cannot be stored without considerable loss, so it would not be held during the winter for the opening of navigation to so large an extent as grain. To these causes may be added a fourth -- the cost of marine insurance. From the opening of the seventh decade the railroads rapidly monopolized the business, and continued to do so until the year 1886. Since 1885 the relative importance of the rail lines has diminished. In 1885 they carried almost seven-eighths of the flour shipped eastward from Chicago, while in 1896 they carried but a little more than three-fifths.
"In the spring of 1872 the railroads entered the field for a part of the grain traffic, and secured a liberal portion of it throughout the season of navigation. In the following year the struggle was continued, the railroads securing a large share of the business. Since 1873 the contest has been maintained. In some years the railroads have made great encroachments into the traffic, and in other years the lake carriers have almost monopolized the business. Shipments by rail exceeded those by lake in 1881, and again in 1885. Since the latter year the lakes have more than held their own, and in some years have captured nearly all the wheat.
In the years previous to 1873, with some exceptions, most of the wheat taken from Chicago by the railroads was secured in the winter months, when lake navigation was closed. Since 1873 the largest rail shipments have often been made after the navigation season had fully opened.
In a general way it may be said that the corn traffic has followed the same course as the wheat traffic. The railroads appear, however, to have secured a considerable share of this business at an even earlier time than they obtained a large part of the wheat traffic. During the years 1868, 1869 and 1870 the railroads carried considerable quantities of corn, and then for five years transported but little of this commodity. In the movement of this important crop the year 1876 was the decisive turning point. The crop of corn grown in 1875 was large and of good quality, and the export demand was steady and strong, so the grain was moved rapidly forward by rail. Throughout 1876 the rail routes competed vigorously with the lake lines and obtained a large share of the traffic. During the months of May and June 6,208,706 bushels of corn were shipped from Chicago by lake, and 5,588,830 bushels by rail. The amount of corn carried by rail during the year 1884 was almost equal to that transported by lake. During the following year the shipments by rail again almost equaled those by lake, the amounts being, respectively, 28,682,864 and 29,382,591 bushels. Since 1885 the lakes have regained much of the east-bound traffic lost in the earlier years. In 1896 they carried more than six times as much corn as the railroads.
The statistics of the movement of oats show that the railroads carry a larger proportion of this than of other grains. This is surprising, for oats is a commodity of comparatively low value and large bulk, and it is generally held that this class of goods is best adapted to water transportation. The explanations of the larger rail movements of oats are not far to seek; one of them, however, runs counter to long-established opinion. Oats take up moisture more readily than other grains, and as a very small amount will cause oats to become musty and thus unfit for horse feed, it is sometimes found advantageous to ship this grain by rail. But there is another and far more potent cause for the surprisingly large rail movement of oats. It is the lake rates; these are fixed more upon the basis of bulk than of weight, and as oats is a bulky product, the freight per hundred pounds is considerably higher than on wheat and corn.
Enough oats can not be stowed away in the hold of a ship to secure a cargo equal in weight to that of the same ship loaded with wheat, and therefore it is necessary to fix a higher rate per hundred pounds upon oats than upon wheat. The grain car, on the other hand, is so large that there is no difficulty in loading it to its full carrying capacity with the bulky product oats, and as a consequence the rail rates on oats are no more per hundred pounds than those on wheat and corn. The larger lake movement of oats in recent years is perhaps in part explained by the fact that since the agitation for deeper channels began vessels have been constructed to draw more water when fully loaded than the existing channels would permit. This being the situation, many vessels, so to speak, would have extra cargo room or unoccupied space when transporting heavy commodities. These vessels, to a certain extent, would suffer no loss in carrying the bulky product of oats, for if they carried wheat or corn a part of the hold would remain empty.
Shipments from Chicago. -- The following table of east-bound shipments of flour and wheat from Chicago from 1860 to 1897, compiled from the Chicago Board of Trade reports, shows the relative lake and rail shipments:
Shipments from Milwaukee. -- From Milwaukee the percentage of lake shipments is larger, probably on account of the longer rail haul. From the reports of the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce the following tables of east-bound shipments from that city have been compiled:
The grain belt of North America, especially that of the wheat grower, has been gradually moving to the Northwest during the past thirty years. Lake Superior traffic, largely in consequence of this movement, has been steadily gaining upon the wheat and flour trade of Lake Michigan. The tremendous increase of the Lake Superior grain trade is shown accurately in the statistics of the commerce of the St. Mary's canal, published on another page of this volume.
For much of the Western grain trade the ports of Lakes Michigan and Superior are active rivals. Both recognize as a common enemy the diversion of the currents in the recent years to gulf ports, and to meet this menace improvements have within the past two years been made in the elevator service of the Great Lakes. Large shippers have built independent elevators at Erie and at Buffalo with the view of reducing transfer charges at the lake terminals. The effect of this added capacity and cheapened cost must necessarily stimulate the lake carriage of cereals.
The grain commerce of Buffalo has steadily grown ever since the city was finally established, or rather ever since the harbor was established at the mouth of Buffalo creek. From the table following it will be noticed that the year 1839 was the first during which the receipts of grain reached 1,000,000 bushels; that the year 1880 was the first in which those receipts reached 100,000,000 bushels, and that in 1897 reached 200,000,000 bushels.
The receipts of flour at Buffalo did not reach 2,000,000 barrels until 1883, when the aggregate was 2,071,000 barrels. In 1886 they were 4,582,000 barrels; in 1890, 6,245,000 barrels; in 1893, 10,562,000 barrels; 1894, 11,488,000; 1895, 8,971,740; 1896, 10,384,184; 1897, 12,638,725, the largest on record. Reducing the flour to bushels of grain, or 63,193,635 bushels, the receipts of grain and flour in bushels at Buffalo in 1897 reached the grand total of 264,844,905 bushels.
A Canadian Grain Route. -- A new route for the grain trade of the Great Lakes extends from upper lakes ports to Midland, on Matchedash bay, a portion of Georgian Bay. Grain, in small quantities, has been shipped to Midland for many years. The receipts there for 1897 were 2,295,203 bushels, exceeding any previous annual record. In 1898 the receipts of grain were about 6,000,000 bushels. A large elevator was completed at Midland in October, 1898, and greatly adds to its facilities for handling grain. The harbor at Midland is excellent, and some of the largest grain carriers on the lakes made that port during 1898, both from Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. There is also a large elevator at Goderich, on Lake Huron, built in 1898-99, which also greatly adds to the facility of handling grain en route through Canada.
Since the fire of 1871 the increase has been uninterrupted, and in 1898 the 22 elevators of the city had a capacity of 32,550,000 bushels. These elevators are as follows, as shown by the 1898 report of the Chicago Board of Trade:
This elevator was equipped with steam power, the first in the world to be so equipped, and of course had to overcome a great amount of prejudice, as is the case with most improvements. It had a capacity of 55,000 bushels, and a transfer capacity of 15,000 bushels per day. While both the storage and transfer capacities of this elevator were very small when compared with the capacities of elevators of the present day, yet the facilities it afforded were far in advance of those previously known to commerce.
Oliver Evans, a noted genius of his day, invented in 1780 a grain elevator, which was used for many years in the handling of grain in flour mills. That he was far in advance of his age is amply proven by the fact that the application of this elevator to commerce was not discovered and made practical until 1843, and it was in Buffalo that it was first adapted to the transshipment of grain from lake vessels to warehouses and to canal boats. Previously to this adaptation the method in universal use was to raise the grain from the hold of the vessel in barrels by means of tackle and block, to weigh it with hopper and scales, swung over the hatchway of the small boat, and to carry it on the shoulders of men to the warehouse.
So great were the advantages to commerce of this elevator that it was not long after its erection by Mr. Dart that Hon. David S. Bennett, one of the leading business men of Buffalo at that time, in company with George W. Tifft, built an elevator on Ohio street, and subsequently Mr. Bennett, in company with A. Sherwood & Co., erected still another on Coit slip, which was burned. In 1862 Mr. Bennett built an elevator on his own private account, which was completed in 1866, and since that time the growth of the elevator business in Buffalo has been rapid.
"My experiment from the very first working was a decided and acknowledged success. Within a month after I started, a leading forwarder, who had confidently predicted that shippers could not afford to pay the charges of elevating by steam, came to me and offered double rates for accommodation, but my bins were full. The great saving of time by the use of the elevator was immediately seen. To give an instance that occurs to my mind, the schooner John B. Skinner came into port with four thousand bushels of wheat, early in the afternoon, and was discharged, received ballast of salt, and left the same evening; made her trip to Milan, Ohio, brought down a second cargo and discharged it, and on her return to Milan went out in company with the vessels that came in with her on her first trip down, and which had but just succeeded in getting rid of their freight in the old way."
The growth of the elevator business, in Buffalo, was slow between 1848 and 1857, the number of elevators increasing only from one to three. If the capacity of each of the three, which is a very low estimate, was only equal to the first one built, there could be stored in them 165,000 bushels, and their daily transfer capacity was 45,000 bushels. Since 1857 the increase in the number and size of the elevators in Buffalo has kept pace with the growth of the country's commerce. In 1897 there were 34 elevators in use and 7 not in use, making 41 in all, the aggregate capacity of the 34 being 20,920,000 bushels. Besides these there are 6 transfer towers, and also 8 floaters. The names of these elevators, together with their several capacities, are as follows:
The Swiftsure Elevator was built in 1844 as the Sterling Elevator, by Captain Kingman, of Buffalo. For a year or two the grain in this elevator was hoisted by horse power, and then steam engines were put in by David Bell. In 1862 it was burned down, the same fire destroying the Evans elevator and David Bell's machine shops. It was rebuilt in 1863. This elevator stands on the Evans Ship canal. Its transfer capacity is about 85,000 bushels per day of twelve hours. The last time it was in use was in 1889.
The Marine Elevator is located on Buffalo creek and Hatch's slip. The original Marine elevator was built by Hon. Israel T. Hatch, in 1853, and was burned in 1879. It was rebuilt, in part as it now stands, by C. Lee Abell, who, in 1894, added another portion. This elevator has a receiving capacity of 22,000 bushels per hour. It has two legs, a portable tower, a vertical engine, thoroughly modern cleaning machinery usually not found in transfer elevators, and in short all the necessary modern improvements. It is owned at present by the Marine Elevator Company.
The Wheeler Elevator was built originally in 1860 by C. J. Wells, but was purchased afterward by Joel Wheeler, his son A. J. Wheeler and the Scroggs estate. It was burned in the fall of 1887, and rebuilt in the winter of 1888-89. It has one leg, and is capable of transferring 100,000 bushels in a day of twelve hours. A. J. Wheeler is manager of this elevator and Albert Hall is superintendent.
The Exchange Elevator was built in 1862 by William Rankin, Alfred Ely and Ashley H. Ball. In December, 1889, this elevator burned, and in 1890 was rebuilt. A stock company, with a capital of $150,000, under the name of the Exchange Elevator Company, limited, is the present owner. The transfer capacity of this elevator is about 10,000 bushels per hour.
The Bennett Elevator was erected in 1862-63 at the intersection of Water street and Buffalo river and the City Ship canal. It has a frontage of 150 feet on the river, and a depth of 98 feet. The bins are 52 feet deep, but vary in capacity from 3,000 to 7,000 bushels.
The Wells Elevator, which stands on Ohio street, between Indiana and Illinois street, was erected by C. J. Wells. As first built this elevator had a capacity of 350,000 bushels, but it was burned November 6, 1890, and rebuilt in 1891, the new elevator having a capacity of 500,000 bushels.
The Richmond Elevator was built in 1864. It occupies premises about 410 feet fronting on the Buffalo river through to the City ship canal. The elevator itself is 125 feet square and 125 feet high, the transfer capacity being about 300,000 bushels per day.
City Elevators A and B. -- City Elevator A was built in 1866, on the ruins of the City elevator which had been built about 1860, and which burned six years later. City Elevator A, from the time of its erection to 1890, handled in the neighborhood of 225,000,000 bushels of grain. In 1890 City Elevator B was built, and from that time to the close of the season of 1896 the two elevators handled 186,000,000 bushels of grain. The transfer capacity of both elevators working together in the same vessel is 340,000 bushels in twenty-four hours, and they have taken in 6,600,000 bushels in a month. The two can load 320 cars of 1,000 bushels each in a day. In the spring of 1897 an additional tower was erected to Elevator A, for the purpose of enabling it to handle the extremely long boats that have recently been and which are still being built.
The Niagara Elevator was built in 1868 by the Niagara Elevating Company, at the corner of Ohio and Chicago streets. In 1871 this plant was purchased by Thomas Clark, who in 1881-82 built the Niagara elevator B. In 1887 the Niagara malt house was changed over into Niagara elevator C, with a capacity of 200,000 bushels, and the transfer capacity of the three elevators is 100,000 bushels per day.
The Evans Elevator was built by Charles W. Evans and George W. Tifft. This elevator was built of wood and had a dry kiln connected with it, which took fire in 1862, resulting in the destruction of the elevator. In 1863 it was re-built of brick and slate. It stands on the Evans Ship canal, has two elevator legs and is capable of transferring 150,000 bushels in 12 hours.
The Connecting Terminal Elevator was built in 1882 by a stock company. It is located on Blackwell island, has a storage capacity of about 1,000,000 bushels, and a transfer capacity of about 250,000 bushels in 24 hours, when operating with both its legs. During the season of 1896 this elevator received 17,500,000 bushels of grain. This elevator is distinguished by having been the first in Buffalo, if not in the country, to have connected with it a portable tower, which is moved along the dock to a distance of about 30 feet, for the purpose of adapting the elevator to different lengths of vessels.
The International, Lake Shore and Dakota Elevators were all erected about the same time, and with special reference to the receipt of grain by rail. Previously to that time all of the elevators in Buffalo had been erected with reference to the receipt of grain by water. Previously cars loaded with grain had been kept standing on side tracks scattered along the lines of the various railroads entering the city for distances of from ten to seventy-five miles. The International elevator stands on two blocks of ground bounded by Niagara, Wayne and Dearborn streets, the New York Central & Hudson River railroad and Scajaquada creek, and the Lake Shore upon land fronting on the Hamburg canal and Alabama and Scott streets, occupying 97,000 square feet of ground. These two elevators were built in 1886-87. The combined storage capacity is 1,000,000 bushels, the International receiving from the Canadian roads, and the Lake Shore from the Lake Shore, Nickel Plate, "Nypano," and the B. N. Y. & P. railroads.
The Dakota Elevator was begun March 16, 1887. It is located on the Buffalo Ship canal and Hatch's slip, and has a frontage on the former of 162 feet and on the latter of 335 feet. It connects with the Buffalo Creek railroad, and so through that with all the railroads entering the city of Buffalo. It has six canal deliveries, and a transfer capacity of about 175,000 bushels per day.
The Frontier Elevator was erected in 1886. It is located at the intersection of Hatch's slip and the City Ship canal. The plan upon which it was built was then a novel one, comprising great capacity with economy in space and power. The building is 72 x 267 feet; the height of the transfer department is 111 feet; height of marine tower, 127 feet; height of elevator above storage warehouse, 77 feet; number of bins, 126, each bin being 8 x 18 x 52 feet. The Chase system of low bins is in use, elevators of this kind being considered much safer than the old style, and the insurance is considerably lower. The location of this elevator is convenient for the unloading of lake vessels and for the loading of cars, and its transfer capacity is 15,000 bushels per hour.
The Coatesworth Elevator, located on South Michigan and Ganson streets, and on Buffalo creek and Hatch's slip, was originally built in 1886 by Thomas Coatesworth. It was burned in 1893, and rebuilt in the winter of 1893-94. It can take in 22,000 bushels per hour. It can load onto canal boats about the same quantity and onto cars about 10,000 bushels per hour.
The Kellogg Elevator stands on the south side of Buffalo creek, and is on the Pratt & Wadham slip. It was built in 1892 by the Spencer Kellogg Elevator company. It has a transfer capacity of about 10,000 bushels per hour.
The Raymond Elevator was started in 1893 as a floating elevator built on a canal boat by A. M. Kalbfleisch, of Brooklyn, and G. H. Raymond. To build such an elevator had not before been thought possible, but it was a success from the first. Later it was merged into a transfer tower which has since been operated. These gentlemen, Mr. Raymond and Mr. Kalbfleisch, built in the spring and summer of 1897 a grain elevator which has a storage capacity of 600,000 bushels. It stands at the foot of West Genesee street, Buffalo, N. Y., and between West Genesee and the Erie Canal slip, No. 2.
The use of iron and steel in the construction of grain elevators, was first suggested by George H. Raymond, of Buffalo, one of the owners of the Raymond elevator. Mr. Raymond arranged with Robert J. Reidpath, the well-known structural engineer, to inquire into their possibilities, and after several months of study and investigation Mr. Reidpath designed a system of construction which has been acknowledged by the most practical and eminent engineers in the country to be the most economical and practical adaptation of these materials for that purpose, bringing the cost of the bin construction down to about that of wood, and at the same time making it absolutely fire proof.
The outer walls and partitions are only six inches thick, and they are composed of a net work of light steel channels and bar iron, no single piece above the bottom of the bins weighing more than seventy-five pounds. This net work is covered with expanded metal lath on both sides, and the space between is filled in solid with concrete and the laths are protected on the outside of the partition with cement plaster. The exterior walls have an open air space the full height of the sides, giving a free passage for the air between the outer wall and the sides of the bins, keeping the bins free from severe atmospheric changes and the penetration of moisture.
The first of the series of elevators erected of this material was the Raymond elevator in Buffalo. It is 50 x 200 feet in plan, divided into 32 bins, each about 12 x 24 feet in size, with an average height of 73 feet. The grain is moved by the belt-conveyor system.
The Eastern Elevator was built in 1893 by the Eastern Elevating Company, with a paid-up capital stock of $1,000,000. The elevator is situated between the Sturges elevator on the west and the Kellogg Linseed Oil Works on the east. It has a wharf front of 303 feet, a depth of 180 feet and is 150 feet high. The crib is divided into 211 bins, and above it are four stories, in which all the machinery for elevating, weighing, etc., is placed. It has three marine towers and a transfer capacity of 45,000 bushels per hour.
The Buffalo Transfer Elevator is located on the Abbot road at the crossing of the Lake Shore road. It was built, in 1895, by the Buffalo Transfer Elevator Company. The storage capacity of this elevator is 90,000 bushels. It was built, in part, for cleaning grain, and has a transfer capacity of from 25,000 to 30,000 bushels in ten hours.
The Electric Grain Elevator Company, in the spring of 1897, began the erection of an elevator on Buffalo creek, 500 feet east of the Ohio street swing bridge. This elevator is a unique structure, and is all of steel above the foundation. It is considered so thoroughly fire-proof that no insurance is carried upon it. Not only the frame, but also the beams, floors and stair-plates are all of steel, and it has a pneumatic elevating process, which was used in this elevator for the first time in Buffalo. The capacity of the elevator is 1,000,000 bushels, but the company owns lands adjoining so that if it should ever be necessary to increase the capacity even to 4,000,000 they can do so. It is supplied with nineteen hermetically sealed, air-tight and fireproof tanks, seven of which have a capacity of 100,000 bushels each, while the other twelve have a capacity of 25,000 bushels each. Each of the several tanks is so divided into compartments that shipments can be kept separate, and all of the compartments have hopper-bottoms, so that they are self-cleaning. The main building is 130 feet by 40 feet on the ground, and is 146 feet high. The building and its tanks are built on solid rock, which is here only seven feet below water level.
The Erie Canal Elevator was originally the Clinton Mill, and was converted into an elevator in 1890. In 1894 Thomas M. Ryan, then part owner, bought the Floating elevator, since known as the Ryan Floating elevator, and in the ownership of this Stephen C. Clark became a partner. These two elevators were destroyed by fire in 1897, and immediately afterward Ryan & Clark began the erection of two new elevators on the same site, near the foot of Ferry street, on the Erie canal and Niagara river. The new Erie Canal elevator has a capacity of 150,000 bushels, and the Floating elevator has a transfer capacity of transferring 10,000 bushels per hour.
The Northern Elevator, which stands on Ganson street and the City Ship canal, was erected during the spring and summer of 1897. It is opposite the docks of the Union Dry Dock Company, and is undoubtedly the greatest structure of its kind in the world. It is a part of the Great Northern railway system, on the railroad lines of which one-sixth of the wheat crop of the United States is said to be raised, and which includes four elevators at Minneapolis, St. Paul and Superior of about 6,500,000 bushels aggregate capacity. This elevator has a frontage on the Blackwell canal of 296 feet, a depth of 120 feet, and a height of 167 feet from the level of the dock. The entire building is composed of steel and brick. In all the frame rafters, roof, floors, bins and machinery, there is nothing whatever that will burn. The circular steel tanks, which are the greatest feature of the structure, are placed in three ranks of ten each, with two inner rows of smaller tanks to utilize the spaces between the large ones. The capacity of the thirty large tanks is 85,000 bushels each, a total of 2,555,000 bushels; and of the eighteen smaller tanks, 18,000 bushels each, a total of 324,000 bushels, making a grand total of 2,874,000 bushels. There are also smaller shipping, storage and other bins, in the elevator, sufficient to bring the entire capacity to something more than 3,000,000 bushels. These forty-eight bins, as well as the smaller ones, are of steel, from one-fourth to a half inch in thickness, the material weighing 6,000 tons.
The equipment includes two conveyor belts 60 inches wide and 740 feet long; ten legs inside the elevator, and one in each of the three movable towers on the water side; twenty-seven garners and ten scales with a capacity of 1,400 bushels each, and twenty-two shipping bins of 1,400 bushels each. The three legs on the river side of the elevator can each be moved so as to be suited to different vessels unloading at the elevator. Each leg is provided with its own motor. The motors are stationary in the marine towers and are connected with the marine legs by rope drive wheels, the electric current reaching the motor by a system of trolley wheels that take up the current after the fashion of electric cars. These legs are each capable of elevating 20,000 bushels of grain an hour from a vessel, or 600,000 bushels in ten hours, altogether.
The discharging capacity of the elevator, is 300 cars a day, of ten hours, and 50,000 bushels an hour to canal boats. The entire floor of the structure that has been built on the top of the upright system of circular steel bins, is filled with garners, scale bins and machinery for handling the grain, prominent among the many others being the motors for transforming the electric current into power. There are in all four 100 horsepower motors, eleven 50 horse-power, and two 20 horse-power, making a total of seventeen motors, exerting 940 horse-power. Steel bulkheads divide each of the large circular bins into three compartments, making it possible to store three sorts of grain in each bin at a time. The cost of construction was $4,000,000.
The Western Elevating Association, which has its offices at the southwest corner of West Seneca and Pearl streets, and which for thirty-seven years of its existence was known as the Western Elevating Company, was organized in 1857. The name was changed, in 1894, to the Western Elevating Association.
The association was organized to secure co-operation among the elevator owners. Its active operation was suspended in 1897, the Great Northern elevator declining to cooperate with the other elevators. It is stated that the association may be revived at any time. In 1887 the officers of this association were as follows: C. A. Bloomer; president; R. R. Buck, vice-president; P. G. Cook, secretary and treasurer. In 1896 and 1897 they were as follows: George F. Sowerby, president; William Meadows, vice-president; P. G. Cook, secretary and treasurer.
At Erie and Elsewhere. -- One of the largest and finest elevators on the Great Lakes was recently constructed at Erie by Counselman & Co., of Chicago, and at this and at other Lake Erie ports there are grain elevators of varying capacities.
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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.