Sperling says goodbye to landmark grain elevator

Emily Distefano, The Carman Valley Leader

The Sperling Community recently said goodbye to its most prominent historical landmark.

Demolition of the Sperling Grain Elevator has been underway since the beginning of March, and the bulk of the nearly 100-foot structure came tumbling down on March 27.

"Had it’s day"

“It’s had it’s day,” said local contractor Brent Russell, who was in charge of the demolition.

“The truth of the matter is that those old wooden elevators are so out of standard. They’re obsolete - it’s sad, but it’s the truth.”

The elevator was owned by a local cooperative until 2008, when they sold it to Delmar Commodities.

The last time it was used was in the fall of 2013.

Delmar’s Operations Manager, George Wieler, said that given the building’s deterioration, the company made the right decision in choosing to demolish the elevator now.

“It was hard to close the doors because we had some loyal customers,” he said.

But he noted that it was really created for use in the 1930s, when farmers still used horse-drawn carriages instead of semi trucks to haul grain, and over the years the elevator has just become more and more outdated.

“It’s like anything, it only had so much life left. It had served it’s purpose,” he said.

Still, the structure lived to be the last standing grain elevator in Sperling, surviving the area’s Dominion, Ogilvie and Canadian Consolidated elevators.

When Russell purchased the building from Delmar, he looked into different options for re-purposing it but said it just wasn’t feasible without an exorbitant amount of money and time.

It also posed a fire risk for the village - if the structure ever went up in flames, the blaze could easily be blown to other buildings and homes on a windy day.

And fire was a very real possibility - the Canadian Consolidated Elevator burned down in 1995.

Sad to see it go

Past and present area residents have flooded Facebook with comments about how sad they are to see this piece of community history go and how much they will miss seeing it tower above the area.

Russell himself understands the debt the community owes to its agricultural past - he is linked to the Sperling Grain Elevator through his great-grandfather Clifford Waddell, who sat on the board of members that built the elevator in 1926.

The structure won’t completely disappear though. Russell salvaged as much timber as he could, as well as the large distributor wheel which he plans to paint and hang up in the Sperling Arena.

He noted that the original builders probably wouldn’t have expected the elevator to stand for so long - but it is important to him to preserve a little bit of that heritage for generations to come.


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