Building Description O.G. Bradshaw Grain Elevator, Kimball South Dakota

The O.G. Bradshaw Elevator was built as a self-contained country elevator in 1908 by Oscar G. Bradshaw, having a 20,000-bushel (bu.) capacity and being forty-eight feet tall at the top of the full-length, triangular cupola. Bradshaw used cribbed construction for a block of nine square bins in the main house and frame construction for its office, drive bay, and cupola.

The foundation is concrete and there are ramps leading to the drive bay from the east and west of both earthen and concrete construction. The structure of the elevator uses twelve-by-twelve solid sawn timber beams with corbelled plank lumber extending from the bins for support at the juncture of the crossbeams along the work floor. The structure has lapped weatherboard siding which was painted red. On the east side of the main house there is an opening for distribution piping that may have extended to a grain storage building that Bradshaw added to the east side of the elevator sometime between 1917 and 1928 and later removed. On the north side of the main house, the outgoing piping is present, but partially removed from lack of use and interference with current cars on the railroad siding.

There are large, wooden, folding double batten doors on the east and west ends of the drive bay that rolled along interior metal tracks in order to have allowed access for farm wagons to deliver the grain. The southern half of the eastern doors is still attached to the existing tracks. There are regular single-leaf doors with simple wooden surrounds both on the south elevation of the office and on the northern end of the main house.

As common for grain elevators, there were few window openings: a single window on the south side of the office, single windows on the east and west sides of the office, a single four-over-four window along the ladders on the south side of the main house, a single window next to the door on the north side of the main house, square fixed-light windows on the north and south sides of the main house at the level of the distributor floor, and single windows on both the east and west sides of the cupola.

The roof of the elevator is gabled with a gable-end cupola, the office has a gable roof, and the drive bay connecting them has a shed roof. The roofs of the elevator and cupola have wide eaves and use rafter construction framing, lumber sheathing, and cedar shingles, while on the office and drive bay the cedar shingles have been replaced with asphalt shingles. Over the drive bay, the eastern half of the roof is gable-end, and the western half is a shed roof that slides partly below the roof of the office. There is a small, square concrete chimney coming out of the office for the stove that was housed there (now removed), and there are three lightning rods attached to the top of the main house.

In the office, the ceiling and walls are plastered, but the rest of the structure is open-frame. There is a five-panel wood door in the southwestern corner of the office that leads to stairs down to the boot below the drive bay. There is a doorway and a two-light sliding window between the drive bay and the office. All floors use joists and lumber.

In the drive bay, there is a metal grate where the wagonloads of grain coming through the folding doors would have been tipped using the winch to let the grain flow into the boot below. The first-story space between the drive bay and the work floor of the main house is open. Above that one-story opening is a spout leading out from the headhouse into the drive bay. Just inside the work floor is the wooden leg with metal mesh window, and the metal distributor wheel with the numbers of the bins indicated so that when its handle is turned the spouts turn in the headhouse and align to deposit grain in the intended bin. Behind the leg is a hopper with metal chutes leading to it, almost all of which are in place. Each of the bins are numbered in paint and have small square openings at the work floor level. The interior of the bins are rectangular with occasional planks cutting across the corners at regular intervals.

The elevator has a series of stair ladders along the southern end of the interior leading from the work floor to the distribution floor and headhouse in the cupola. The distribution floor above the block of bins has two square windows on the north and south sides and makeshift plank flooring. On the main floor of the headhouse, is located the top of the legs, the electric motor sans belt, and the rotating spout leading to the nine spouts for each bin. Each of the holes has a funnel-like collar to help reduce dust. There is a lower headhouse floor on the northern half of the cupola that holds no equipment.

Much of the interior works of the elevator are intact. The Howe receiving scale and platform are present and functioning, though last calibrated in 1959. There is a small electric motor with winch hoist system that is attached to metal tracks along the drive bay and below the rafters, which was used to lift wagon trailers (and early trucks before hydraulic lifts) for unloading grain. The wooden leg, distribution wheel and spouts, the wooden hopper for outgoing grain on the ground floor, and the electric-powered drive motor and wooden garner in the headhouse of the elevator are intact. The belt that carried the grain has been removed from the leg but most of it remains on the site, and the belt from the drive motor has been removed.

In 1956, the roof shingles and weatherboard siding were replaced in kind by local contractors, but Bradshaw did not undertake many of the common 1930s improvements of shortened eaves, metal sheet siding, or replacement of its drive bay to accommodate large vehicular traffic. The wood ramps to the drive bay were sometime replaced with concrete and earthen ramps. There was also an additional building used for grain storage built sometime between 1917 and 1928 closely adjoining but not attached to the east side of the elevator that has since been removed. In the present condition, the ghost of that building can be seen where it kept some of the paint on the east side of the main house from weathering. The elevator retains its original cribbed construction and still houses many of its historic inner workings including a wooden elevator leg, hoppers, distribution wheel and piping, electric motors, and scales. The self-contained elevator with intact drive bay and office stands in the neglected railroad reserve as a rare surviving representation of this building type, so crucial to early agricultural and commercial development on the Great Plains.