The North Bend Eagle

  Ame elevator
The grain elevator in Ames was demolished Saturday [Oct. 24, 2015] 66 years after it was built.

Ames elevator bites the dust

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 10/28/15

Another piece of history is gone, but this one was showing her age and becoming a hazard.

Last week Alan Kassmeier of Fremont started the process of clearing out land purchased by Heartland Protein. The company already had a long metal building to the west of the elevator and they were looking to expand.

Built in 1949 by Gandy Construction Company, the elevator was much the same shape as the one built in 1892 by Cherny and Watson along the railroad tracks in North Bend. The North Bend elevator became part of North Bend Grain and was torn down in 2002.

Caroll Wiebold grew up in Ames. He said there was an older elevator east of the Ames elevator. The old one was torn down after the most recent one was built. Both were owned by Ames Farmers Co-op Association. Weibold worked at the Co-op in the 1960s.

An article in the July 7, 1949, North Bend Eagle said the new Ames elevator was soon to be dedicated. Construction started in January 1949 and completed July 1, 1949, with a capacity of 50,000 bushels. The article went on to describe the new elevator:

“The old office and elevator of the Farmer’s Union is being retained giving a capacity of 80,000 bushels. The new structure, which is of wooden frame, is covered with steel sheeting.

“The old elevator has been an Ames landmark for about 45 years. The Farmers Union has owned it for 36 years. The elevator handles feed, machinery, coal, lumber and general merchandise. Lawrence Mack is the manager of the elevator and Donald Wright is the assistant manager.”

In 1973 the Ames Farmers Union was still active and advertising in the Eagle.
In August 1974 the Ames Farmers Union propane business was sold to the Farmers Co-op of Snyder and North Bend.

In 1974 Vernon Flamme purchased the elevator and in 2015 Heartland Protein owns the property where the Ames elevator sat and tore it down to expand its business housed just west of the elevator. Flamme and a representative from Heartland Protein did not immediately respond to interview requests.

This is the third such elevator Kassmeier has taken down after jobs in Wahoo and Cedar Bluffs.

Kassmeier first tore down and cleared out the buildings north of the elevator by the highway. He dug a hole and burned those buildings with intent to knock down the elevator, push it into the hole and burn it then bury it after recycling the metal parts. But things didn’t happen that way.

Kassmeier weakened the north edge of the elevator and attached a steel cable to the center beam. It didn’t take much of a tug before the building came down. Before he had a chance to put the building in the hole, it caught on fire.

Kassmeier worked with the Union Pacific railroad, Dodge County Sheriff Department and North Bend Fire Department to make sure they were all aware of his plans. With the necessary permits in place, the demolition started Saturday, Oct. 24, morning. Kassmeier spent the night watching the flames to make sure neither the railroad nor highway were compromised.

Thus the 66-year life of the towering landmark in Ames was brought to a close in a puff of smoke.


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