Among the biggest and oldest structures in the community, Shawnee Milling Co., at 201 S. Broadway, is on the cusp of becoming even larger.

Among the biggest and oldest structures in the community, Shawnee Milling Co., at 201 S. Broadway, is on the cusp of becoming even larger.

Come bright-and-early Monday morning, the mill is beginning installation of 26 new holding bins.

Shawnee Milling Co. President Joe Ford said the expansion project has been eight years in the making.

Ford said the 50-foot-tall bins will hold finished product — including whole grains, wheat and corn — enabling the company to make its existing products more efficiently and add new ones to its offerings.

He said 20 of the bins can each hold 76,000 pounds of product; the six larger ones will each have the capacity to store 150,000 pounds.

“It's the largest expansion since the late '90s,” Ford said.

The massive storage containers will be perched on the third floor, rising to become a seven-story tower when it's finished — making it one story taller than the flour mill.

The process will take some time.

Ford said that while the first two bins are set to arrive Monday, a couple bins are scheduled to reach the site every other day.

Ford said onlookers will have ample opportunities to watch the cranes place the large equipment.

He said it will take two cranes for the job — a 50-ton crane and a 350-ton crane.

After the bins are in place, electrical and mechanical equipment will have to be put in place to make the whole project operational.

He said a storage warehouse also is being added on the north side for packing and ingredients.

Everything could be up and running hopefully by late March or April, Ford said.

The mill

A year before statehood –– in 1906 — when Shawnee was just 11 years old, J. Lloyd Ford bought Shawnee Roller Mills.

Ford changed the businesses’ name to Shawnee Milling Co. and transported it north, across the North Canadian River, to the site where the company stands now.

After much success and expansion, the company was dealt a tragic blow on Aug. 11, 1934, when the mill burned to the ground; the loss was estimated to be around $300,000.

Without hesitation, Ford immediately gathered his employees and hired them to clear the site –– and just nine months later Shawnee Milling rose from the ashes, celebrating with a three-day dedication in June of 1935.

The mill also sustained — but overcame — a second fire, destroying a couple floors in 1954.

In the 1990s the company added a 14-truck loading dock on the east side of the food products building.

Shawnee Milling Co. celebrated its centennial in April 2006.