Abandoned Grain Elevator in Willow Island, Nebraska

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.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

After stopping to admire the abandoned gas stations and storefronts of Roscoe, Nebraska, I continued east along the Lincoln Highway. With the windows rolled down, I breathed in the fresh country air and felt the warm glow of the sun against my skin. Verdant farm fields blanketed the landscape as far as the eye could see.

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.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

Sheets of aluminum siding hung from the exterior of the weathered old tower like peeling paint.

A fading orange Ford truck sat among the weeds.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

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.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska


The place now stands empty, a reminder of simpler times, replaced by larger modern facilities just down the road.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

Rotting cloth sacks hung along the wall.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

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.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

A large section of roof has caved in over the years. The skeletal beams reach down like bony fingers.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska


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.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

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.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

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.

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

With my curiosity satisfied, I got back on the road and drove a few miles east to Cozad to explore an incredibly eerie and fascinating abandoned slaughterhouse and meat packing plant. You definitely won't want to miss this one!

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Abandoned grain elevator in Willow Island Nebraska

4 comments :

  1. I'm loving these posts--though it's making me get the "Road Itchies"!!!
    Hubby and I rented a house next spring in Nebraska and will be checking out many of these places you're covering.

    Something that always strikes me is how "nice" the wood is in the interiors, protected from the elements. It really shows just how harsh Mother Nature can be on those exposed parts.
    Have a great week

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I love that you're loving them :) I'm itching to get back out on the road too. Springtime in Nebraska sounds like an amazing vacation. I bet you're going to have an awesome time.

      I hope that if this place ever gets demolished someone will salvage the wood. It could be put to great use, like the beautiful planter your hubby made.

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