Corn Wagons on Onondaga
1897 photo from the photo album of Gladys Meads
In 1897, forty-seven loads of corn were sold to the McFarlin Grain Co. at eleven cents a bushel by George Bell of Ames. Friends and neighbors had picked 2,204 bushels when Bell was ill. This photo looks west from Duff Avenue on Onondaga (Main) Street. The photographer probably took this picture from the roof of the Dinkey engine house on the east side of Duff.
The presence of a grain elevator downtown underlines the rural roots of Ames, as well as every other community in Story County. At the extreme right in this photo a bit of the brick Hotel Davis (corner of Duff and Onondaga) is barely visible. Next, under the street lamp (electric street lights were first installed on Onondaga in 1890) is the Nichols Livery, later operated by Lynn Morris). To the left of the street light, the top of the municipal water tank on Kellogg can be seen. The tall spire and ornate store front on the south side of Onondaga indicates the Bosworth Drug building. Signs along the south side of the street include "Hotel Watson" and "Free Reading Room."
The above portion of the lithograph Bird's Eye View of Ames, published in the 1875 Adreas Atlas, shows an elevator (marked #3) labeled as the M. & W. Evans Elevator. There was a downtown grain elevator from the very early days of Ames because area farmers welcomed the railroad as the best method of shipping their products to wider markets. It was no coincidence that on one side of the tracks was the depot and on the other side was the grain elevator.
Milton Evans, born in 1830, came to the Ames area in 1860. Walter, born in 1833, came to Story County one year later than his brother. Some time after Ames was founded, they built the elevator at the east end of downtown Ames, just north of the Chicago and North Western tracks. Milton built himself a brick house on South Duff and represented the Ames area in the Iowa Legislature in 1876. Walter and Milton's younger sister, Rebecca, came to Ames with her husband, Benjamin Franklin Adams, and seven children in the spring of 1869. This was the first Adams family in Ames.
X-RAY (college yearbook later known as the ISC Bomb)
Ames, the seat of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, is situated in Story county, very near the geographical center of the state. It has a population of about 2,500 and is incorporated under the law as a city of the second class, with four wards, the college property comprising most of the Fourth ward. The topography is one well adapted to the chief industry of the county - that of agriculture - being a gently rolling country, with a fertile soil.
The town was located in 1864 and named after a prominent stockholder of the Northwestern Railroad Co. With its early history and development we have little to do. It has never been boomed, but has always enjoyed a steady growth. Its citizens have been more of the solid, substantial men of business, actively engaged in their various pursuits, rather than capitalists.
As to accessibility and railroad facilities, Ames, for its size, has few superiors. The main line of the Northwestern, running from Chicago to Council bluffs, crosses at this point the north and south branch of the same road running from Des Moines north. This company maintains one of the finest services in the west, and Ames enjoys train facilities of the best. These facts make it a fine shipping point for a large section, for farm products and live stock. Its accessibility is making it a desirable residence town for traveling men with families to educate.
Ames is lighted by electricity, having one of the finest municipal lighting plants in the state for a town of its size. It has a good water system and a steam motor line running to the college. The business houses of the town are well up to like establishments in any town of its size.
Ames is a town of possibilities, and, with the growth and influence of its institution of learning, the town expects to grow accordingly. It has now a good public school of twelve teachers and 500 pupils, and with the college, can well claim to be one of the great educational centers of the state.
This portion of an 1896 Sanborn Insurance map shows the downtown grain elevator. The arrow shows the photographer's viewpoint in the corn wagon image.
|Two miles west of the
town of Ames is situated the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanical
Arts... The college is situated on a fine farm of nine hundred acres.
One hundred and twenty acres in the southwestern portion of this farm is
set apart for the college campus and surroundings. Cement walks lead
to all parts of the extensive campus and gravel drives lead to all the
professors' houses and through the beautiful natural park lying north of
the athletic fields.
The college was established by an act of the state legislature in 1858, for a purely agricultural institution. In 1862 by another act of the legislature it was changed to benefit agriculture, mechanic arts, and the science and literature relating thereto. the college was formally opened in March of 1869. the income of the college from National grants is about seventy-five thousand dollars per annum, and down to the present date the total cost of the buildings erected by the state has been about four hundred thousand dollars, besides the dwelling houses, and buildings for farm stock and machinery.
This view (circa 1902) of the same area shows a single story building has replaced the McFarlin Grain Co. elevator on the south side of Onondaga. This was known as the Skyscraper Building by town youths because its five identical storefronts gave the illusion of a tall building on its side. By 1900, the new Lockwood Grain Co. elevator had been constructed downtown, but on the south side of the tracks. It operated until 1979, although the ownership changed several times. Learn more.
Times, October 21, 1897
The Iowa weather and crop service has just issued the crop review for the season, from which we take the following:
The crop season of 1897 opened unusually late, the necessary work of preparation for seeding and planting being begun ten days to two weeks later than the average of recent years. The month of April was excessively wet, and the amount of sunshine was abnormally low. The soil was generally saturated with moisture, rendering field work difficult, and, as a result, plowing and seeding were greatly delayed or were performed under unfavorable conditions for the best results. May was cool and dry, and this caused the formation of clods and crusts on the surface of fields that had been worked during the wet period in April. Planting was done under unusual difficulties, and on account of the poor condition of the soil, cool weather, and defective seed, the stand of corn was much below the average. On the first of June the average condition of that crop was rated at 79 per cent. The crop correspondents of this service rated the other staple crops as follows: Winter wheat, 67 per cent; spring wheat, 81; oats, 88; barley, 86; rye, 90; flax, 89; timothy, 97; clover, 95; millet, 93; potatoes, 92; apples, 90; grapes, 85; strawberries, 96; meadows, 97; pastures, 99.