One Hundred Ghosts is a photographic exposition of rural grain elevators, with a focus on wood elevators of both frame and crib construction. The photographs are organized around specific railroad branch lines.
If historians draw a line between the wild west and the agrarian west, most would do so sometime in the 1870s. In this decade and in the two decades thereafter, the west emerged from a frontier state to one of organized local communities. For the next 100 years, the civic architecture of small, agricultural towns throughout the larger midwest was practically formulaic. These towns were predominately rail-served. And, the centers of commercial activity were as related to the industries on railroad avenue as they were to main street. These agrarian communities consisted of the same bits and pieces: a depot, fuel distributors, stock yards, a team track and grain elevators. In a way that is too obvious to bear mentioning, the mechanics of our local economies are different today. Railroad Avenue rarely intersects with main street. Railroad Avenue, and everything that it implies in terms of commerce and daily activity, is almost always on the "other side" of town--if there at all. And, the infrastructure which represent this way of life is largely gone as well. Local fuel distributors are largely gone. The stock yards and team tracks are likely gone. The railroad tracks are often gone. The depots and attending agents are gone. Of the few depots that remain, they have been gentrified to the extent that the authenticity of the original structure has been subsumed into our new world--one restaurant and museum at a time. However, the elevators are not all gone. They reach back to the beginning of rural Americana. They are among the last vestiges of rural economy in its first generation--and some are unadulterated in their demise. But, in a short time, they will be gone too. And the prairie sentinels that once reveled in ubiquity will be as vanished as the way of life they represent.
Over 300 original photographs
140 rural grain elevators
19 original maps, which show the relationship between elevators and rail lines.
Organized around the rail lines of the Northern Pacific, Milwaukee Road, Chicago & North Western and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroads.
In depth coverage of 5 states: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska.
Detail photographs of company logos and elevator details
A history of the grain industry, anecdotes, stories and historical insights