While driving across Kansas, you see a lot of grain elevators. Every town has one, and they all look pretty much the same. Occasionally, though, you come across one that stands out. Ardell, Kansas has two.
Ardell is not a town, or even a community. It’s barely even a railroad crossing. Even so, it’s home to one of just two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Edwards County, Kansas. The Gano Grain Elevator has been standing next to the railroad tracks since July, 1915. The grain industry was booming that year, and a total of five elevators suddenly sprung up at Ardell.
The Gano structure received its name after one of its original co-owners, George Gano. It was capable of storing 15,000 bushels. In fact, it still is. The old structure is in fairly good condition, even though it is no longer used.
Just a few hundred feet east of the Gano tower stands another elevator. It was built just two months before its neighbor, but looks to be at least two decades older. The east elevator was built by the Kansas Grain Company, but builders apparently chose not to splash a fancy name on the outside. Or, if they did, it has long since faded away. So now, the rusty structure stands in anonymity next to Gano, utterly ignored by the historic folks who handed out official recognition to its neighbor.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could walk inside the older of the two elevators, although you would do so at your own peril. It’s hard to imagine a structure that could be more unsafe. Falling through that rickety wood floor is also inconceivable, as is the amount of time you’d spend below ground, before someone finally showed up to help.
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.
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