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Save Ross Elevator

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Oldest Grain Elevator in Iowa Gets a Lift Guess How Much It Weighs

Audubon, IA, May 06, 2015 --( The owners of the last wooden grain elevator in Audubon County, and possibly the oldest one left in Iowa, are conducting a contest to guess how much the elevator weighs when it is lifted next week by Heartland Building Moving out of West Bend, IA.

Bob and Janet Nelson, owners of the Ross elevator which was built by Civil War Veteran Charles Stuart, received a $25,000 matching grant from the Iowa Barn Foundation and have been raising funds to help restore the 130-year-old grain elevator. Guessers can donate any dollar amount at the website. The winner will have a plaque with their name listed and displayed in the elevator once restoration is complete.

Bob says, “We have been raising funds since last fall, and we raised enough to begin restoring this historic building. The first step is to lift the elevator so the limestone foundation can be rebuilt. Raising the building provides a unique opportunity because it’s something extraordinary. Not too many agricultural buildings this old exist because they have been demolished and replaced with something newer.”

The elevator was built in the 1880s when the Northwestern/Rock Island Railroad went through the town of Ross. The construction is remarkable in that the lumber is laid flat one on top of another then spiked together log-cabin style with 2x8, 2x6, and 2x4 boards. The size of the elevator is roughly 25’x30’, and not counting the foundation, 60’ high.

During the turn-of-the-century, galvanized steel was put over the original lap siding to prevent fires from locomotive steam engine sparks. Many all-wood elevators were lost due to the sparks and replaced with the more modern cement structures.

There are three buildings on the property: the elevator, a storage bin, and the brick scale house. The elevator is the main structure to restore, with the storage bin, and the scale house next, if funds allow. The elevator will be the only structured lifted.

For more information, or to make a donation along with your guess on the weight of the elevator, please visit or email or call Bob Nelson at 712-304-5809.
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Save Ross Elevator
Bob Nelson

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