I spent part of the holidays in Illinois with my family. It was soggy, as anyone following US weather news might have guessed. We had clouds. We had rain. We had flooded roads. Still, there were a few beautiful afternoons and Christmas day was bright and clear.
On one of the clearing afternoons, coming back from an errand in a nearby town, I announced to my mother that I wanted to go see Thomasville. I don’t know about you, but there are places I’ve known of or driven by my entire life without ever visiting them. Mom responded that we could drive by the buffalo on the way.
We had a little trouble finding the buffalo, or bison as they would be more correctly called. My mother used to drive my niece by them when she was picking her up from school, and that being a number of years ago, she directed me down a few roads where there were no bison.
We found them, though, and were momentarily disappointed because they were at the back of their pasture. I doubt they are particularly biddable animals, but they were interested enough in us that they came forward to be photographed.
The bull came right up to the fence–and get a load of the fence: a good eight feet high and well electrified–and had a good look at us. I would have liked to get close and have a conversation, but the sturdiness and voltage of the fence gave me pause. (A friend whose family had a ranch in Idaho also once told me that they herded their bison with … pick up trucks. In spite of old western movies, even horses have better sense than to try changing direction of an animal twice their size.)
Having found and photographed and admired the bison, we moved on toward Thomasville. And having showed you what the fields look like in summer, I thought I would show what they look like after harvest.
Thomasville was visible in the distance, so it wasn’t hard to wend our way down the roads toward it. For the uninitiated, this structure is designed to store grain and decant it using gravity into a train car or a truck when said grain is sold. It is called an elevator because grain was loaded to upper floors of the structure via a device called a bucket elevator, which looks a bit like an escalator with buckets instead of steps. Grain can also be loaded onto cargo ships this way.
The Thomasville elevator is still in use, though I don’t think the railroad tracks going by it are.
I thought the place had a stark industrial beauty. It’s worn and a bit tatty, but the way it occupies the landscape is solid. Do you have any places in your neighborhood you’ve never visited? I have more of them here in Virginia. Maybe I’ll get cracking on plans to go see a few in the new year.