The Clearmont Elevator, one of three that still stand in Clear Creek Valley, one near Lieter and near Ucross, recently celebrated it’s 100 years with a new paint job on the sign proclaiming it was Best Out West Flour Mill. Owner Tom Weber re-painted the sign in May of 2020, which, after 70 years, was getting faint and chipped. “I’m not sure if they ever repainted it, or if this was the original paint,” Weber said. “I had wanted to repaint it since I purchased it, and finally had the equipment and the money to do it. It is a Clearmont landmark, and I wanted a brighter sign.” He added that the original sign was painted by men on platforms held by ropes, but today’s equipment makes painting easier.
The elevator, a massive structure, was built in between 1917 and 1920, by the LZ Leiter farms. Leiter built the elevators for grain storage until he could market it. These three elevators, plus the one that still stands at the Mill Inn in Sheridan, are built of concrete, not wood as the one near Wyarno is. The one in Sheridan was built after the wooden structure burnt down in 1919.
In 1927, the three elevators were first leased, then purchased from the Leiter estates by the Sheridan Flour Mills, Inc., to use for storage for the wheat they used in their Best Out West Flours. Many farmers in the area grew dry land wheat and sold it to the company.
In its heyday, 1934, the Best Out West Flour was well known throughout the US.
“It is the only one of these three elevators that had a color sign on it,” Weber said. This elevator had more storage that the other two, so it may have been the principal elevator in the Clearmont area. The elevator near Leiter, owned by the Little Family, only has black lettering, and one at Ucross has no writing.
Weber said there were 16 chambers inside the elevator for grain storage, and a rope and pully type elevator to raise the grain from the storage bid below the elevator to the chambers.
In 1967 Wallace Vannoy, who farmed wheat for several years south of Clearmont, wrote, “Wheat prices $1.08 a bushel. Took some wheat to Clearmont Elevator.”
When the flour company went out of business, in 1974, the elevators were sold to private operators. The one in Clearmont was sold to Paul Auzqui, and, later, about 2006, Auzqui sold the land and elevator to Tom Weber, and he uses the land to store propane tanks for his propane delivery business, Tri-County Gas.
At a hundred years old, the old elevator still stands a prominent Clearmont landmark.
Submitted by Cynthia Vannoy