Grain silo sprouts 2nd life as billboard

This illustration, courtesy of Cobb and Associates, shows an advertising concept taking shape in Fruita, where the former Farmland Industries Co-op grain silo, now long out of service, will display a huge banner for tourist advertising.

For decades, the Co-op grain elevator has been a Fruita landmark, a rural skyscraper that has been a symbol of this city’s agricultural roots.

Those roots still run deep, but soon the tallest structure will serve as an advertising medium for the tourist attractions for which Fruita has become known in more recent years.

The city and Grand Junction advertising firm Cobb & Associates have reached an agreement to drape a large banner on the west side of the grain elevator, reviving in a new form a building that hasn’t been used in years.

“From the tourism standpoint and the business standpoint, that is probably one of the best promotional opportunities that lays out there because you can see (the elevator) from miles away,” said Eric Mello, marketing director for Cobb. “You can be on the Kokopelli Trail and see it. You can be on Interstate 70 and see it.”

The banner, roughly 60 feet wide by 120 feet long, will be visible to motorists eastbound on I-70.

The city is paying roughly $15,000 for the unique advertising campaign, with most of the money covering the labor and equipment needed to secure the banner to the structure. The banner is interchangeable and will initially feature a mountain biker with “FRUITA” emblazoned across the top.

Fruita resident Tom Dodd came up with the idea of hanging the banner on the grain elevator last year as officials were revising the city’s sign code, according to Mello.

City Manager Clint Kinney said the city and the Fruita Chamber of Commerce approached USA Trucking, which agreed to let the city hang the banner for free.

“We need to have a better presence for cars on I-70 coming from Utah,” Kinney said. “There’s a 100-mile gap between us and Crescent Junction.”

The property at 146 U.S. Highway 6&50 has been used for agricultural storage since at least the 1930s, when fourth-generation Fruita resident Bill Osborn’s grandfather stored beans and wool in an elevator on the property, according to Osborn.

Osborn’s father later ran the business, Osborn Bean and Elevator, until Farmland Industries bought it in the late 1960s, tore down the elevator on the site and built its own elevator, Osborn said. Farmland’s faded Co-op logo is still visible on the silo.

USA Trucking bought the property and other adjoining parcels in the early 2000s when Farmland went bankrupt.


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