On Saturday, my husband and I decided to be a little adventurous and take a trip out to “Silo City” in Buffalo for Boom Days. Boom Days is a celebration of the removal of our ice boom in Lake Erie…meaning that spring is finally here!
Buffalo is extremely famous for our grain silos, or grain elevators. The following historical information is from the website Buffalo History Works:
Prior to the year 1827 there was no grain handled in Buffalo. Surplus grain grown in the American Midwest reached markets in the East only after transportation over long and often impossible routes. Grain from the midwest was shipped on flatboards down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans where it was then loaded onto sailing vessels that carried it to its eventual destination in the East or in Europe. Oftentimes the grain was carried by wagon on rough roads that passed through the rugged terrain of the Appalachian Mountain chain. In short, getting the grain which grew abundantly in the midwest to markets in the east was nearly impossible. More often than not when the grain reached its destination, it had spoiled and was unusable.
Since Buffalo was situated in the middle of the land/lake transportation route, grain would arrive in the city and then be transferred either to waiting ships or wagons for continued shipping. When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, a new revolution in transportation had suddenly developed. The Canal was the first efficient transportation system to breach the Appalachians. Now midwestern grain could be shipped by lake boats to Buffalo where the Canal was waiting to take the grain further to New York.
During the first five years between 1835 and 1841, when grain was literally unloaded on the backs on men, Buffalo’s grain receipts rose from 112,000 to over 2 million bushels. This tremendous increase in grain traffic saw the need for a faster and more efficient method of loading and unloading grain from the ships that arrived in Buffalo. In 1842 Joseph Dart, a Main Street retail merchant, constructed what came to be known as the first grain elevator at the foot of Commercial Street on the Buffalo Creek.
By 1863, Buffalo had 27 grain elevators in operation with a total capacity of 5,835,00 bushels and a transfer capacity of 2,700,000 bushels per hour.
Many of these grain elevators are still standing, but are not in use today, although General Mills does still do production here (which is why it smells like Cheerios when you drive over the Skyway. Seriously, you can buy the t-shirt HERE!) But most recently, there has been a gain in interest about these silos, and even so much as to build a rock gym called Silo City Rocks – visit the website, it’s such a great idea.
This was our first experience going to Boom Days, and we did not know what to expect. I have to say that this was probably one of the coolest experiences that I have had in Buffalo. We were able to park right at the foot of the grain elevators, and walk around and through the actual buildings. It was so amazing to be in a part of Buffalo’s history.
Some of Buffalo’s food trucks were there and they had beer from Flying Bison and live bands set inside one of the grain elevators.
It was kind of eerie in a way, being inside these abandoned silos which have held such a rich history and were full of stories.
Now I’ll just stop talking and let you enjoy the pictures. 🙂
It’s events like this which make me proud to be a Buffalonian!