Grain elevator in Avalon expands

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

— From Highway 140, the structure looks like a giant hockey rink or a go-cart track.

Instead it's just one part of a multi-million expansion of the Gavilon Grain Elevator in Avalon.

On Wednesday, the company held an open house to showcase the improvements and explain the changes to a business that's been part of the rural landscape for more than eight decades.

The grain mill is first mentioned in Gazette records in 1949. A photo from that time shows the new Avalon Farmers Supply Co. elevator. Built at a cost of $50,000, it had a capacity of 30,000 bushels of grain.

"Previously added were a modern feed grinding mill, a warehouse with about 20 carloads capacity, a corn crib and two driers, all built for maximum automatic operation," the caption read.

The business was owned by Louis Lader, who "bought the company in 1936 as a bankrupt concern and last year shipped more grain that all other stations on the railroad between Janesville and Chicago," according to the caption.

The Lader family owned the operation up until about three years ago when it was sold and then resold to Gavilon in October 2011.

Now, when drivers swing around the curve in Highway 140, they see what looks like a giant hockey rink.

That's the company's new grain pile. Basically, it's a concrete slab 650 feet long and 150 feet wide with slanted walls rising from its base. Above it, three enormous poles rise to a conveyor belt that runs the length of the slab. The pile is covered by a large tarp. Giant fans outside the walls pull the air out of the pile, holding the tarp in place.

When full, it will hold 1.7 million bushels of grain.

That's the most noticeable feature of the expansion. Other improvements included new inbound and outbound truck scales, new truck roads and an office.

The improvements will expand capacity and decrease the amount of time it takes for trucks to get in and out of the facility.

The second phase of the expansion will involve updating the rail tracks in and around the facility.

Last updated: 4:37 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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