Willow Island is a tiny community along the Lincoln Highway in Nebraska, born during the age of Union Pacific’s westward expansion as it built the transcontinental railroad.
If the rickety old grain elevator along the railroad tracks had not caught my eye, I would have driven right past Willow Island without even realizing it. Naturally, I had to stop to take a closer look.
Sheets of aluminum siding hung from the exterior of the weathered old tower like peeling paint. A fading orange Ford truck sat among the field.
Tons of grain from local fields once passed through the old wooden structure before it was loaded onto train cars on the adjacent tracks and transported to market.
The place now stands empty, a reminder of simpler times, replaced by larger modern facilities just down the road.
Rotting cloth sacks hung along the wall.
Signs remind long-gone workers against the danger of smoking. Large amounts of grain dust, when mixed with air, become very flammable and can react explosively when exposed to heat.
A large section of the roof has caved in over the years. The skeletal beams reach down like bony fingers.
Willow Island, named for a nearby island covered in willow trees, was first settled in 1873. Like many of the towns in the area, it began as a stop along the Union Pacific Railway as it extended further westward.
The community never saw major growth. Over the years it has been home to a handful of homes, the old grain elevator and the new facilities that replaced it, a church, a general store, and the old railway depot.
Willow Island’s historic railway depot was relocated years ago to the Dawson County Historical Museum in Lexington to be preserved and appreciated for generations to come.
The stunning photos of Abandoned Grain Elevator in Willow Island, Nebraska were taken by Jim Sullivan. Jim Sullivan is a traveler, who shares his stories with followers. If you’d like to see more abandoned places, then check out our articles on the Soviet Ships Graveyard in Perm, Russia, and the Creepy Photos of Train Graveyard near Moscow