By LaVonne Limpus-Jurack
In central Montana you don’t hear much about the skyline unless someone is referring to our amazing mountain ranges. Hobson, a town of 220, considers its skyline to be the remarkably nostalgic grain elevators that have stood at its north entrance since 1909. The two elevators are the tallest buildings in town and are referred to as “prairie cathedrals.”
Recently a group of concerned community members came together as the Pride of the Judith. Their intent: to save the historic grain elevators from the demolition planned by their rightful owner, the Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) Railway Company.
Dan Deegan was born in the area in 1942 to a family of ranchers. He explains that about 30 years ago, BNSF purchased the elevators that stand next to the railway. The buildings were in bad shape and started to fall down. It was then that the demolition was prescribed. Once the community caught wind of the plan, they let BNSF know the buildings had special meaning.
“We told them we still had interest in them. These here mark the town,” says one community member. “If they tear them down, how will we ever find our way home again?”
Deegan explains that the buildings are structurally sound but need work to be insurable; “BNSF said we’d have to come up with the money to make them safe and to make it so people could not get inside of them. The estimate on that is $30,000 to replace the roofing, siding, and close it up. That will actually be another $10,000.”
The group would also then be responsible for the continued payment of taxes on the structures.
“Our community feels [the grain elevators] offer more
than just nostalgia but historical value to the area as well,”
The elevators were created for horse and wagon delivery and went out of use long ago, but the Pride of the Judiths’ goal is to raise money for repairs and to continue to pay the taxes on the structures so that BNSF will allow them to remain standing for time immemorial.
For more information about the project, visit prideofthejudith.com.