Historical Society making lofty plans
So far, members of the Tonganoxie Historical Society have renovated the Honey Valley schoolhouse, the Reno Methodist Church and now they're working on the dairy barn.
Next in line is the silo.
The 30-foot-tall silo made of red clay tiles is probably about 90 years old, according to a silo expert.
Joe Bartlett, of Midwest Silo Company, Clarinda, Iowa, checked out the silo recently.
Building the old silos out of the curved bricks was a labor-intensive process, Bartlett said.
"Later they started making concrete silos," Bartlett said. "They could make those about three times faster."
Members of the historical society hope to hire Bartlett to repair the silo, which would include adding cement beneath a strip of clay tiles near the top where Bartlett said it appeared that lightning had struck.
They also will add a galvanized steel roof. The cost of the repairs will run about $7,000. Also, the committee is considering replacing the concrete base, which might cost an additional $1,000.
Del Englen, president of the organization and chairman of buildings at the site, said projects are funded by donations from local businesses and individuals and by proceeds from the concession stand members of the historical society run at summer baseball games. Also, he said, in the past the members sold pecans.
Englen said some historical society members eventually would like to add a dome and windows to the top of the silo and a circular stairway on the inside leading up to the top. But for now, Englen said only basic structural repairs are planned.
"In the future, if we decide to make it an observation tower, we can add the dome and windows," Englen said. "It will be taller than the church and schoolhouse."
Earlier this month, the historical society had the last section of concrete flooring put in the dairy barn where members plan to establish a museum. Exhibits in the museum will feature dairy, agriculture and general interest items, all donated by people in the community.
While the historical society has accomplished much in the 20 years since it was established and in the 13 years since Mildred Young donated six acres to the organization, there is still much more work to be done.
"We need new members," Englen said. "And we need younger, energetic people to join our organization. This group has a couple of members who are under 65, but the rest of us are right around 70."
Likewise, Englen said members would like to see more public use of the facility, which includes a church where weddings can be held, a church basement for receptions and the schoolhouse. He said the members of the organization appreciated it last when two classes from Tonganoxie Elementary School held events in the old-fashioned schoolhouse.
That's the best way to let people know the facility is there, he said.
"We're little known," Englen said. "And we really don't have a way to get the word out except by word of mouth."
Those interested in volunteering at or in using the historical site are asked to call Del Englen at 845-9003.