Grain Elevators
Small Elevator Image
Site Credits


Never before has any site on The Buffalo History Works been so demanding of both time and resources. When I began the Grain Elevators site back in August of 1997 I was hoping that it would be another cut and dry site -- accurately locate the history, find the pictures, code the page, upload it to the server, everyone is happy. I soon discovered how wrong I was when I tried to find an accurate history of Buffalo's grain industry to reference. It was not to be found. Pictures weren't a problem, but facts? Forget it.

After much hunting and gathering I soon discovered just how easy it was to find resources on the subject. I just had to look in the right places. I owe a world of gratitude to many people who directed me to those places. Without them this site would not exist.

Mark Maio
Mark Maio portrait.
Mark Maio; the photographer and his favorite subject.
First and foremost, I must say a big "Thank you" to Mark Maio. Mark currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and works as a documentary photographer. In 1988 he moved to Buffalo and taught at the University of Buffalo until June of 1996. During the first few months of 1989, as a way of learning about Buffalo, he began a personal photographic documentary project on the Irish First Ward on the south side of the city.

The project, which continues now in its eighth year, has taken him to Kansas, where he spent time living and photographing on a family owned farm during the wheat harvest and down the Mississippi River towards the modern port of New orleans, where technology has made it more economical to transship grain from. In September of 1996 he met the Kinsmen Independent grain boat in Duluth, MN., photographing the grain loading process and making the trip across the Great Lakes on its voyage to Buffalo and back.

Currently, Mark is organizing his photographs, research and oral histories into a book on the grain scoopers entitled "Against the Grain: Buffalo's Irish Grain Scoopers."

When I was writing the Grain Elevators site, I knew I wanted to include a section on the grain scoopers but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find Mark Maio let alone have him give me access to his writings and photographs. Finding Mark turned out to be easy -- he knows many of the same people I know -- and after an initial meeting and outlining the details of the site, he was more than happy to lend his knowledge and materials. For this I am forever grateful. I am honored to present Mark's work on The Buffalo History Works. I only hope that you will appreciate his dedication as much as I do.

As a final person to person note; Mark, thanks for being so understanding about that Zip disk. You probably realized that I was not too happy about what happened when I spoke to you on the phone. The blood is pumping again and I was able to enjoy the holidays!

Very special "Thank You's" go out to:

The Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society
...including Sally Treanor, Mary Bell and William Siener. Sally was the one who initially put me in touch with Mark Maio and who never fails to help out with information when I seem to get in a jam. Mary found the majority of information for the "History" section and almost made me jump out of my skin when she showed me the speech Joseph Dart delivered to the Buffalo Historical Society in 1865. Bill, who serves as the director of the Society, opened the doors to this and other BHW projects and has helped to get the ball moving on the Web companion to the Arcadia Publishing Company book, "Buffalo's Waterfront" by Thomas Leary and Elizabeth Sholes. To these great folks and the rest of the staff at the Society, I extend a warm and sincere "thank you".

Thomas Blake
...the man that the popular electronics store's slogan was created for -- "You've got questions, we've got answers." I just gave my friend Mr. Blake a call with a question about some little known elevator fact and in the course of an hour, he shows up with one of his trademark "Box O' Facts." Mr. Blake came from the First Ward, worked on the Buffalo Creek and knows everybody! Every time I ask, he's always there to help. God bless you and thanks again. You are truly missed.

Mike Hassett
Mike and I share a common love for photography and local history, especially the grain elevators. Mike was a good inspiration and a great help in gathering information for this site.

Dr. Thomas Leary
...who answered his phone the other night and made perfect sense out of a bunch of incoherent historical data. I'll never consider myself an expert, but thanks to Dr. Leary, everything makes perfect sense now and I can pass the information on to everyone who visits the site. A great big "thank you" for publishing (along with Elizabeth Sholes) a fantastic book; "Buffalo's Waterfront". Thanks for all your help and I look forward to putting your book on line.

Matt Wronski
...for giving me more than just a tour of Con Agra (Lake and Rail elevator). Several years ago, I was working on a documentary film about Buffalo's railroad systems. I met Matt because he is an expert on the D. L. & W. railroad, but he also was the Operations Supervisor of the railroad that still serviced the Con Agra elevator. After talking trains, Matt allowed me to ride in the engine cab with him while he switched cars in and out of the elevator in the early evening. I was there right under the spouts of the elevator as the grain was loaded into hopper cars and then set out on a siding waiting for Conrail to pick them up. What a thrill! Thanks again, Matt.

Jim Van Brocklin
...and the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society for being there when history was made. Jim was a cut above the rest when it came to filming and photographing trains. Jim shot some incredible footage of trains leaving the Lackawanna passenger station, but he also caught the Dakota and other elevators on his trips out. You can imagine my excitement when I was watching some of Jim's movies and saw the Dakota on moving film in full color. I think my landlady called the cops thinking I was beating up my wife as I was screaming "IT'S THE DAKOTA! IT'S THE DAKOTA!" Thanks again Jim for providing me with the films.

Tim Tielman
...and the Preservation Coalition of Erie County for writing a fantastic guidebook and for allowing me to use it in this project. Never before has one book forced me to go out and find many of the buildings and other artifacts that are still in existence. I hope that you and your organization will continue to preserve Buffalo's architectural integrity.

The Preservation Coalition offers several guided tours of Buffalo historic waterfront district.

  • Historic Harbor by Boat -- Gives you a unique perspective on Buffalo's maritime past by exploring the bends and bows of the Buffalo River. Included are tours of the grain elevators and Buffalo's old metal-working area.
  • Light to Light -- A tour of the Erie Basin lighthouse of 1973 and the Buffalo light of 1833. Includes a walk on top of the breakwall and the Coast Guard base.
  • The Working Waterfront -- A tour of the Historic Cobblestone District and grain elevators. Also includes a visit to the Edward M. Cotter fireboat and more.

For more information about any of these tours, contact the Preservation Coalition at 873-3626

Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society
...for being the source for nautical history. You have such a fantastic repository of information and I thank you for sharing it. I also look forward to working with you in the future.

Western New York Heritage Institute
...for, as always, providing me with a plethora of images and historical data for this and all of the other BHW projects. Thank you for being there.

Carol & Joshua
...my wife and son, for having the continued patience and understanding that these things need to get done, and for putting up with the long hours that Daddy spends in front of the computer. I love you both.