Smolan Elevator

I’ve never come across an elevator quite like this one. Perhaps it’s part of the “head house” at the top of the elevator. Or maybe it’s just a safe getaway for a weekend poker game.

I worked the scales in a head house at one time. Here’s the process, as I remember it (and understood it at the time). In addition to channeling new grain into storage, head houses play another role. As grain sits, heat builds up from a natural fermentation process. The grain needs to be turned over, occasionally, to help keep the temperatures down. So it’s augured out of the bottom and lifted back to the top of the elevator, or moved to another silo. A set of scales helps monitor a gravity-fed gizmo — something resembling a giant sand clock — at the top, and helps keep the outflow matched to the supply. You can imagine the mess if grain was pumped to the top faster than it was being redirected.

Smolan is in Saline County, about 10 miles south of Salina.