Vintage Grain Storage: The Essential Corn Crib


If corn came out of the field wet at harvest time, it would first go into the metal grain silo, dry out, and then be moved to the corn crib. It had both a wide and a narrow Kelly Ryan lift. The larger one passed under the grain silo unloading auger, it filled the truck, drove it over the maize crib and unloaded into the crib via the narrow elevator.

The wide lift was apparently newer and had a PTO shaft, but the narrow lift was still driven by a belt pulley in my youth. The only tractor we had with the ability to run the belt was our 1957 John Deere 620 and one crop the tractor was having trouble so we had to borrow a neighbor’s John Deere 60.

Shortly after, a PTO shaft was installed on the lift so that any of our tractors could operate the narrow lift.

The corn crib floor only ran about halfway as the north side was open to the roof. To access the corners of the bins on this side of the building, one had to walk on the edge of the bins above the open area.

Dad used pieces of tin to funnel the grain to the various bins upstairs in the crib. There were a few long wooden planks on the open side to walk on to attach the box to the end of the elevator.

Once I really started helping her as a teenager, one of my least favorite tasks was fixing the box at the end of the elevator. I didn’t think I was afraid of heights, but after doing this task a few times, I REALLY wasn’t looking forward to doing it in the fall.

During a summer thunderstorm, a large tree branch fell on the narrow elevator and bent it badly, so it was removed. After that, the wide elevator or even the auger was used in the corn crib.

When we moved to the farm where we are now, there was an old corn manger. It was however in such a dilapidated state, as was the old farmhouse, that we decided to demolish the buildings, so that we never stored any grain in the manger.

The wide elevator sat in the trees for many years before my dad decided he needed a decent feeder for the cows so he repurposed it for that purpose.

As I drive across the country, I occasionally see old corn cribs on farms. Sometimes they are even still used by the farmer to store grain, despite being decades old.

Although I’m a bit sad that we’re no longer storing grain in a corn manger, the biggest emotions for me are the happiness and relief of not having to climb to the top and tie tin to the end of ‘an elevator.

Russ Quinn can be reached at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

Russ Quinn can be contacted at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


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