The Other Side of Sunset

The Other Side of Sunset

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Rayl's Hill!

September 2011
A faithful sentinel has provided a backdrop for all the Kansas seasons for 100 years. Since 1915, the Rayl's Hill elevator has been a landmark for travelers on 4th Street Road just west of Hutchinson.

The elevator has "Thos.Rayl, 1915" embossed on the south side.
Thomas Rayl was 3 years old when he arrived in Hutchinson, Kansas from Indiana in the back of his parents' covered wagon. In 1898, Rayl, 24, married 16-year-old Clara Page. The young couple moved to a home on a small "hill" west of Hutchinson. In other parts of the country, the small "rise" probably wouldn't be considered much of a hill. But the definition was different in the plains of central Kansas.

Rayl became a successful farmer and needed a place to store his grain. In 1913, he began designing the elevator, but it wasn't completed until 1915. He had plenty of children to help him put up his harvest. The couple raised 13 boys and a girl on their Reno County farm.

According to an article in The Wichita Eagle, the Rayls' youngest child, Willard Rayl, said cement was 10 cents a sack, adding that his father used "lots of cement and rebar." The elevator cost $2,000 to build. The family used it was wheat storage initially, then used it to store silage.
June 2010
Near the elevator and across from a cemetery on the hill, there's a granite historical monument. It marks the June 23, 1923, visit to the farm when President Warren Harding helped cut a wheat field. Harding had stopped in Hutchinson to address the nation's agricultural problems. Harding spoke to 8,000 students, then made a trip to the state fairgrounds to deliver a speech. He was guest of honor at a public reception at the Bisonte Hotel before taking the five-mile trip to Rayl's Hill.
 
Harding was reluctant at first to climb up on the tractor and operate a wheat binder, according to an article in The Hutchinson News. However, First Lady Florence Harding prodded him, saying, "Oh, go on, Warren! Don't disappoint the newspaper boys. You know they want a story!"

The News praised the president: "A friendly smile, a hearty handclasp, a word or two of greeting."
September 2009
The family farmed the ground until the 1960s, when it was sold. The elevator hasn't been used for years. But it still is a substantial reminder of days gone by, when elevators dotted the plains, accommodating the horses and wagons hauling wheat and other grains in from the surrounding fields.
 
The elevator has certainly been the backdrop for many a Kansas landscape photo, including several for me. I doubt these will be my last.

8 comments:

  1. Kim, I can remember my mother saying that the most beautiful picture in the world was a golden wheat field with an elevator against a blue sky. You know I think she was right. Mary Jane Hawver McEntire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your mother was a wise woman, Mary Jane! It seems I am always trying to figure out where I can park to get a photo of this iconic elevator that marks my route from home to Hutch!

      Delete
  2. A wonderful insight in to a landmark. Love the photos and the history you included.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lynda. I've been waiting to write and post this one. I wanted it to be celebrating its 100th birthday before I did.

      Delete
    2. Thomas Rayl was my grandfather. He is buried in the cemetery across the road along with many other Rayl clan. My dad, Gene is also buried there and we are having a service there for my mom, Margaret this coming Friday. I was looking for old memories of the location and came across your photos. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. I'm sorry for your loss. I also had many comments when I shared this link on Facebook. Those comments reflected that I am not the only one who enjoys this wonderful old landmark on our trips to and from Hutchinson. My best to you and your family!

      Delete
  3. Enjoyed reading the story about this unique landmark. My husband photographed it recently and posted it on his Facebook page, Kansas Wildlife and Nature Photography, and then someone shared the link to your blog. Reading its history and the details about President Harding's visit to Kansas made me smile. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete