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Report - Silo City, USA September 2014

mookster

Trans-Atlantic Tart
Regular User
#1
'Silo City' is the affectionate term for an area of Buffalo in Western New York which has the largest concentration of grain elevators anywhere in the USA. The whole area was plunged into decline after the 1959 opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway which meant ships loaded with grain could bypass Buffalo altogether, and nowadays the area known as Silo City is filled with enormous empty concrete grain elevators and storage facilities.

The main part of the complex is well guarded and has, in some parts, been reused. My friends in Buffalo have got to know the live-in security guard and have tried repeatedly to get in, but have always been told 'come back next month...'. However, separated from the central area of structures down a railway access road are two of the largest silos not just in the complex but in the world. Both of these buildings have been abandoned for decades, as nobody really knows what to do with them.

I visited these on a day which featured the worst weather I have ever explored in - if anyone has ever experienced gale-force winds coupled with 'lake effect' rain then you know what I'm on about. It was utterly abysmal and led to the running joke with my friends up there that I always manage to bring the British weather with me whenever we meet up.

The first one reached down the track is the former Cargill Pool Elevator, the smaller of the two which was completed in 1925. This one closed in the mid 1960s, from the 1980s until 2011 a boat marina operated off the property but after a fire destroyed the mechanics shop it was closed down. Like it's sister which will be coming up a little further down, there are no ladders or stairs left inside to get anywhere close to the higher levels for reasons I will go into in a bit.



















Next it was a short stroll along the waters edge to it's much, much bigger brother. The colossal Concrete Central Elevator was the largest grain elevator ever built in Silo City and, at the time of it's completion in 1917, the largest grain elevator anywhere in the world. It sprawls for almost half a kilometre along a stretch of the Buffalo River, the sheer size of it is almost too much to take in. It was used for it's original purpose until 1966, and after passing through numerous owners finally was left abandoned in 1975. In 1976 a young boy died after falling from the roof, and following the tragedy all the interior and exterior ladders and stairs were removed from both Concrete Central and Cargills Pool elevators. People have since got up there of course using ropes and all that crap but that's not for me....

By the time we arrived here a torrential rainstorm was heading in so we didn't spend too long for fear the car would either get stuck in the mud or totally marooned by floodwater.















Thanks for looking :)