Last signs of Climax Milling company

Published 9:07 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2010

“I was in the fourth grade in Climax School when I heard the motors at the milling company crank up for the first time,” said Bob Maxwell, manager of the now Climax Peanut Company. “There was such a roar and hum in the air.”

The quietness of the mill seemed overpowering as Maxwell stood looking at the last signs of the old Climax Milling Company being torn down.

A cold icy mist floated over the last few tall grain bins with their holding tower standing defiantly as if to say “You’ll never take me.” But they too would be coming down. For a fleeting moment it seemed the sweet smell of fresh ground feed hung in the chilled air.

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“They need to come down now,” Maxwell said. “They are falling apart, the bottoms are rusting out, and we need to make Climax look better.”

For many years, the hum of the mill and sweet feed smell was part of Climax as farmers came from the surrounding community to grind the feed for their cattle, swine and chickens. Many grew up with the milling company as part of their life. The bins are the only part of the milling company being torn down; the buildings continue to be used by the peanut company.

The first article was about the memories of our son, Deryl Ouzts, as he made weekly trips with his grandfather to the mill for cattle feed, a cold drink and a pack of peanuts.

Libby Allen played a big part in Deryl’s memories, as she sat a small boy on the counter with his treats while grandpa took care of business. Many such stories are intertwined with memories of Climax Milling Company.

There was a total of 12 large grain bins facing Broad Street where the corn was stored before being ground into feed. Behind the bins was a large yard where the trucks and equipment traveled between the scales and the mill. Later, peanuts were added and dried as well as graded at the mill.

The Climax Milling Company became the Climax Peanut Company as the milling of feed was slowly phased out.

“I think it has been about 15 years since any grain has been in those bins,” Maxwell said.

The owners now of the Climax Peanut Company are Buck Maxwell, Paul Maxwell and Terry Phillips. It is a buying point for Golden Peanut Company, with Bob Maxwell as the manager. The company dries peanuts and clean small seed today.

Maxwell said it was time to clean up the old bins, making Climax look better, and they had also become dangerous. Plans are not finalized he said about what will replace the bins, but it will have something to do with peanuts.

Progress must move forward, but sometimes it is sad to let go of what seemed only a short while ago. Was it only yesterday the smell and hum was such a big part of our little town?

Welcome back Betty

A big welcome back to Betty Thomas, assistant to the Climax Post Master Linda Thomas. She returned to work for the first time on Feb. 23 after having major open-heart surgery in December. It was good to see her feeling so well. She said it was good to be back and thanked everyone for their prayers and best wishes.