Grain elevator has new purpose as art

DES MOINES – An abandoned grain elevator in the small northern Iowa town of Eagle Grove has new purpose as artwork, though organizers behind the project say it will take some time to see the final product.

Renamed the Eagle Grove Community Veterans Tower, the structure has slowly been repainted with artwork that aims to honor veterans as well as the town’s farming and railroad history.

“It’s not just veterans but it’s our past and present and our future,” said Gwen Amonson, treasurer of the Veterans Tower Board, which oversees the project. “We’re a farming community, and we’re a huge railroad community.”

The structure, which is from the 1940s and has been unused for decades, has four sides and only one is nearly complete. Eventually, each will showcase the town’s endeavors, Amonson said. The board is collecting between $75,000 and $100,000 for the project, said board Chairman Daryl Watts. It’s been ongoing for about two years, and it could take a few more. Ultimately, they want the structure to be a point of interest for the town of about 3,500 people northeast of Fort Dodge.

“Every town has kind of a focal point some place,” he said.

Various contractors, including from South Dakota, have done the painting so far. But it’s tricky finding the right time to get them up there because of factors like weather, distance, and of course money, Amonson said.

“We’ve been fortunate having commitments from these companies, but they come from a long ways away,” she said. “It’s an expensive situation for them when they come.” The work has included painting over the elevator’s concrete silo with white and closing its windows. The structure’s west side is almost complete and features red, white and blue coloring, as well as a military logo thanking the former Eagle Grove National Guard Unit for their service. There are white stars across the top and the statement, “One Nation Under God.” There’s a motto for Eagle Grove, “A New Vision, A Brighter Future,” and a shout to former Iowa Gov. Robert Blue, an Eagle Grove native who ran the state from 1945 to 1949.