The Sentinels of Toole County

Kevin, Toole County, Montana

Grain elevators not only record the industrialization of plains agriculture; they also show you places–where the railroad left a siding and some sort of town, mostly gone now, took root over 100 years ago. Kevin is in northern Toole County, maybe 20 minutes south of the Canadian border. This lone elevator documents its homesteading era, that with the bust of the 1920s gave way to a boom in oil production in the middle decades of the 20th century. several oil tanks still remain from that era.

Kevin, Toole County, Montana

Kevin is the outlier–the rural grain elevators of Toole County record places that were once large agricultural communities, and have not been in population decline for decades. But elevators, both from the early days and from more modern times, remain as the sentinels of Toole County.

At Devon, Toole County, the elevators face U.S. Highway 2 and the tracks of the Great Northern Railway, now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. I wonder if you can see them from the Sweet Grass Hills. some 30 miles to the north.
More recent metal grain silos surround the older grain elevator at Dunkirk, a land-locked place surrounded by grain fields for as far as the eyes can see.
Galata, on the eastern end of Toole County, captures the fundamental nature of the Hi-Line landscape–bands of steel on raised roadbeds, dotted here and there by tall grain elevators and the spare building or two.

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