The Mid Kansas Coop grain elevator, a gathering place for Galva's farming community for nearly 60 years, is now a seasonal facility that will only be open during grain harvest and anhydrous ammonia season. The change took effect on Jan. 20, according to a letter from MKC Vice President and Director of Southern Operations Erik Lange.

GALVA — The Mid Kansas Coop grain elevator, a gathering place for Galva's farming community for nearly 60 years, is now a seasonal facility that will only be open during grain harvest and anhydrous ammonia season. The change took effect on Jan. 20, according to a letter from MKC Vice President and Director of Southern Operations Erik Lange.

The grain elevator, which has a capacity to hold 481,000 bushels, was built in 1958 to take in wheat, milo, corn, soybeans and sunflowers.

"It used to be the center hub of the community," said farmer Don Unruh. "Bud Myers was there and people would stop in every morning to visit and pick up a bag of softener salt and some dog food."

Linda Andersen, who served as the elevator's bookkeeper for more than 20 years, recalled a time when the office was ringed with chairs for people to use.

"It was a gathering spot. When we weren't busy at harvest time, the farmers would always come in in the mornings and in the afternoons for coffee, check market prices," Andersen said.

Farmers are now able to check grain market prices by looking them up online.

"The internet probably made as much difference as anything did. It's a combination of factors," Unruh said. "One of the biggest things I think that hurt is they quit handling chemicals there."

Over the years, farmers started taking loads to the terminals in Salina and Hutchinson, which paid between a dime to a quarter more per bushel for their grain.

"As MKC and (Team Marketing Alliance) got bigger, the farms got bigger, and it's just become an efficiency issue," Unruh said. "The only ones that are going to unload at Galva are the ones who don't have time to sit in line over there along with all the other big trucks. It used to be a big, long line at Galva, whereas now, I think you could drive in anytime during harvest and unload whenever you wanted to."

The numbers show that the elevator was not seeing the traffic it used to.

"In 2001, we took in 781,455 bushels of wheat. This past year, they took in 28,000," Andersen said.

Farmers are getting their fertilizer and other farm supplies from other locations.

"About the only thing we were using it for was the anhydrous," Unruh said.

Andersen is keeping the history of the elevator alive with a display of items related to its operation.

"We're right in the middle of the wheat belt of the United States," Andersen said. "Farming plays a very large role."

Bud Myers' desk, an old grain scale and testing equipment are featured, along with the tickets on which all the details of the crops were recorded.

"All of the tickets had to be hand-posted," Andersen said. "You had to balance at the end of the night, especially during harvest, and you had scads of tickets. You'd be there until 1 or 2 o'clock some nights, trying to balance."

Photographs of the grain elevator taken during the 1980s show a cooler setting outside.

"We had free pop," Andersen recalled. "They'd have a can every time they crossed the scale."

Andersen recorded daily totals of how much grain came into the elevator. The record was set on June 18, 1998, when 152,191 bushels were taken in.

"It was a big, important thing, years ago, in our community," Andersen said.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel