The Central Counties Co-op, better known to locals as the Newburg Elevator, won’t be celebrating its centennial in 2015.
The 120-foot structure was erected in 1915, and its current owners, the Heartland Co-op, plan on demolishing it according to Executive Vice President of Operations, Marc Melhus.
“What we are trying to do is get everything lined up,” Melhus said. “It’ll be for sure in the next 12 months. There is no date at this point; hopefully it’s in the next 60 (days), but it just kind of depends on how things come together.”
As the end draws near for the elevator, a Dec. 1957-Jan. 1958 issue of “The Iowan” magazine gives some historical background on the elevator.
“Shortly before the Depression, the Elevator was handling 300,000 bushels of grain a year and one year did a $417,000 gross business,” the article reads. “It claimed to serve a territory extending six miles into Poweshiek County.”
Although Newburg is technically in Jasper County, it lies right on the border with Poweshiek County and, in recent history, began sharing a school district with Grinnell. Unfortunately, that proximity to Grinnell would help bring about the slow downfall of the Newburg Elevator, according to the same magazine article:
“The elevator is still Newburg’s biggest business, but today 60 percent of its operation involves handling only: weighing in grain for storage in government bins; weighing it out for shipment.
“Two 10,000 bushel compartments are rented to the government at the present time. With less variety in the business the present managers makes less private profit, and runs into stiff competition from Gilman and Grinnell elevators.”
Heartland Co-op also owns 52 operations all over the state of Iowa, and owns the Kellogg, Mingo, Newton, Monroe, Mitchellville, and Prairie City elevators in Jasper County. They also own the aforementioned Gilman Elevator.
“It’s been slowly deteriorating,” Melhus said. “It really hasn’t had a lot of use the last 20 years. It’s gotten to a point where it’s beyond the point of repairing — the cost of repairing any grain elevator is in the millions of dollars.”
The Newburg Elevator has a storage capacity of 292,000 bushels. In comparison, the Kellogg Elevator holds 3,267,000 bushels and the Gilman elevator holds 856,000 bushels.
“It’s got to be one of the older grain elevators in the state,” Melhus said. “We used a little bit of the grain storage that was there, but it hasn’t really been used by us in the last five years.
“It’s been mothballed by us,” he added. “It’s just time to knock it down and get it off the tax bill.”
Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121 ext. 426 or firstname.lastname@example.org