STURGIS | Mark Larive remembers visiting the Sturgis elevator as a young boy when the family ranched east of Sturgis.
"We'd get oats," said Larive, who still lives east of town and came recently to Dakota Mill and Grain to pick up feed for his horses and guineas.
But his time to pick up feed at the Sturgis business growing. The company has announced that after 70 years, the Sturgis elevator will close at the end of the year.
Brian Hammerbeck of Dakota Mill and Grain said the Sturgis facility, built back in the 1940s, has reached the end of its safe and useful life.
"We determined the entire facility is not sound enough to continue to safely operate without a disproportionate investment in renovation and repairs," he said.
A wind storm in October, with reported gusts of nearly 80 mph, significantly damaged an exterior wall of the brick warehouse at the business on west Main Street in Sturgis.
"The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and has driven this decision," Hammerbeck said in a prepared statement. "Our overall goal is to provide better service to our Sturgis area customers through the safer and more efficient facilities at Belle Fourche and Rapid City."
Larive was backing up his vehicle to the loading dock recently at Dakota Mill and Grain as Kelly Horton was leaving.
Horton said he's sad to see another Sturgis business close.
"If it's not rally-related, it doesn't seem to have the support to remain open," he said.
Horton, who runs a small herd of cattle a mile and a half west of Sturgis, and said he appreciates Dakota Mill and Grain for the products it carries.
"I buy this brand of cake that both my cattle and horses can eat. It's an excellent product at a good price," he said. "With them closing, I'll either have to go to Belle Fourche or Rapid City to buy it."
Pat Kurtenbach, executive director of the Sturgis Economic Development Corporation, said the closing of Dakota Mill and Grain impacts other businesses, too.
"The loss of this long-time agricultural retailer will also mean a loss of traffic for other local retailers as well," she said. "Since agriculture is a large part of the Meade County economy, we are hopeful the farm and ranch community will continue to be served by other operations."
Kurtenbach said she also was happy to learn that the three Sturgis employees will be able to transfer to other sites or retire.
Bob Siedschlaw of Sturgis managed the elevator for about 27 years ago when the facility was Hubbard Milling. He said the business was a hub of activity in the community at that time, but as the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally grew, it became more difficult for patrons to get to the elevator because of increased traffic during the rally.
"Wheat, oats and milo harvest comes in late July or the first part of August," Siedschlaw said. "The rally happens about the time harvest is going on. For anyone to try to come through town with a truck doesn't work. They probably started going to Belle Fourche, Faith, New Underwood or Rapid City instead."
Siedschlaw said when he managed the elevator they bought a lot of wheat from area growers.
“The hopper cars on the train would come right in between the shed and the elevator itself,” he said.
In addition to the Sturgis, Belle Fourche and Rapid City locations, Dakota Mill & Grain Inc. operates in Fort Pierre, Highmore, Midland, Murdo, Philip, Presho, and Wall.