For the first time in more than a century, there is no working grain elevator in downtown Kalispell.
Last week, CHS Kalispell was clearing out its grain elevators on Center Street as it prepared to vacate the site and make way for new development. CHS General Manager Mark Lalum said the move was “bittersweet” for the cooperative but that it ultimately will benefit local farmers and the community.
“These elevators have been here since the early 1900s and a lot of love and care has gone into maintaining them, but ultimately this is a good move,” he said.
CHS is now putting the finishing touches on its facility in the Glacier Rail Park east of Kalispell. The rail-served industrial park was built so that the two miles of railroad track through downtown Kalispell could be ripped up and turned into a walking trail that local officials hope will spur economic development in an underused section of town.
The old grain elevator was built in 1909 as the Kalispell Flour Mill. It was later expanded in the 1960s and 1970s. Plans call to preserve the original 1909 elevator for possible development.
“When these elevators were built they were actually at the edge of town, not in the middle,” Lalum said.
CHS is also preparing to move its Country Store on First Avenue West. Lalum said the store’s current site will close in December and move to the rail park, along with CHS’ offices.