by Michael R. Allen
Once part of the large complex of Corno Mills, this lone grain elevator stands prominently alongside Interstate 64 near the new homes of Parsons Place. National Oats Company opened the Corno Mills in 1904, which thrived in the East St. Louis boom years only to close in the 1970’s after Cargill puchased the facility. Thousands of people see this elevator every day, but few people know its history as part of one of the east side’s largest feed mills.
There is no apparent reason for the elevator’s lonely vigil. Why it survived the demolition of the larger Corno complex is not certain. Nor is there a self-evident explanation for the removal of all of the stair risers on the elevator’s internal spiral staircase (see photograph below). The cast concrete structure is fairly strudy and should stand for another fifty years in its abandoned state, but whether or not the elevtaor survives that long is yet another uncertainty.