Saint Paul Municipal Grain Terminal – SHPO

Saint Paul Municipal Grain Terminal – SHPO


[ Denis Gardner ] We’re standing next to
the Mississippi River in St. Paul, next to the St. Paul Municipal grain terminal.
And there’s two structures to this terminal, there’s a head house which
is that high vertical building that we’re looking at, that’s behind me.
And then we have the sack house which is the horizontal building.
Now, the head house was used to transfer bulk grain, grain in large
quantities, from the head house to the barges on the Mississippi River.
The sack house is the horizontal building and that’s where sack grain
was kept and the sack grain that was kept in the sack house was moved
to barges on the Mississippi River. This facility was built in 1931, there was
a time in Minnesota’s history where all the grain in this state, before it was a
state, was moved down river by barges. When the railroads got here, the
railroad supplanted the river as the principle means for transferring grain
from Minnesota to the Dakotas and Montana, to the East Coast.
And the reason they did that is because they’re more versatile than the river.
Railroads could go anywhere, the river was here.
You had to come here to transport the grain and railroads, they could go
anywhere in the state of Minnesota and also during the winter time, during the
cold months, the river froze, and if the river was frozen it wasn’t navigable.
But with trains, with railroads, you could keep running during the wintertime.
When the railroads arrive in Minnesota, they started arriving in the 1860s, the
railroads supplanted the river as the principle artery for transferring grain.
and so they set a shipping rate, and this was a problem for farmers, because
the shipping rates were pretty high. And the farmers wanted to get around
those shipping rates. So they formed a cooperative called the Equity
Co-operative Exchange. And the Equity Co-operative Exchange
worked out a deal with the City of St. Paul to build some grain elevators
behind me. But 1917, when they built the elevators, there was no
traffic on the Mississippi River. So, the City of St. Paul and the Farmers
Cooperative lobbied the government to improve the river to build dams,
to make this river more navigable. And in 1931 they built this head
house and this sack house, the City of St. Paul build a head house and
sack house to convince the federal government to improve the river.
Which they did, it worked. And by the 1950s, this grain elevator
and this sack house, they became the primary transfer point for grain
moving from railroads to the Mississippi River and then down
to New Orleans and St. Louis. And by the 1980s, things had
dropped off quite a bit. And so at that time the private property that
was owned by the farmers co-operative was sold to the City of St. Paul.
And those elevators were all raised and what’s left is the head house
and the warehouse, the sack house.

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