Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rapelje ...

Anyone who photographs the northern plains quickly realizes that grain elevators are among the finest subjects out there, and I'm sure I've taken pictures of hundreds of them over the years. Today's photo is of the old elevators in the little Stillwater County community of Rapelje, perhaps Montana's hardest-to-pronounce town. Here are the notes I took of that morning, a little over four years ago:

"I shouldn’t have been surprised that Rapelje was just exactly like a thousand other dying towns on the Northern Plains: a mostly-empty grid of dirt streets with a few houses scattered here and there; a couple of long-abandoned business buildings and a prefab metal structure housing a tiny cafe; an 85-year-old schoolhouse; and a small horde of vehicles parked in front of a little white church hosting Sunday services. Easily the finest sight in town was a row of old wooden grain elevators lined up beside an abandoned railway grade ... so I pulled the car off into the weeds, let the dog out, and took some pictures."


  1. Flickr has a group called "I Love Grain Elevators". It has nearly 5000 photos.


  2. Well, luckily for us all I have nowhere near that many grain elevator photos. :)

    There's also an organization, based here in Bozeman, called the "Country Grain Elevator Historical Society." The guy who founded it is one of the finest photographers I've ever seen.

  3. The most interesting collection of grain elevators has to be in nearby Alberta, where, at one time, the Alberta Wheat Pool elevators were painted in various pastel shades of green, blue, and orange, with some other elevators in red, yellow, brown, etc. Truly the most colorful in North America....but they're slowing coming down, too.

  4. Yeah, while I've spent much less time wandering around Alberta than Montana, I've spent some time in the prairies there, and enjoyed photographing the elevators. There's something about the Alberta prairie landscape that's definitely very evocative to me ... the towns are often more picturesque, somehow, as if stepping back in time just a little ways.