Hennepin 4th of July Celebration

Ghost-Town Saloon Becomes Tourist Attraction Near Sheffield

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
A project to rescue a century-old grain elevator along railroad tracks in western Bureau County has turned a sort-of-secret clubhouse into a weekend business.

And, judging from the crowd Saturday in the ghost town of Langley east of Sheffield and west of Route 40 along U.S. 6, the Psycho Silo Saloon is no longer a secret at all.

The throng of people coming and going from the outdoor bar, lawn and deck ranged in age from 21 to 71. And while many arrived on Harley-Davidsons, a lot of folks with no fascination for Harleys have been showing up since Troy Thompson of Princeton started opening the place to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

In fact, antiques buff Frank Fritz from the LeClaire, Iowa-based “American Pickers” History Channel show showed up at “the Silo” on Saturday.

“It’s not just bikers,” Russ Brady of Camp Grove said as a Chevelle owner revved his engine, drawing cheers from the bar and patio.

Brady has been driving his old Pontiac convertible frequently to the saloon since it opened Memorial Day weekend. Brady lives along Route 40 at Camp Point, and says the number of motorcycles going past his house each weekend increased this summer due to the attraction. “It’s like a party on somebody’s patio,” he said.

“People are looking for a place to go,” Thompson said between busily making change, talking to visitors and getting more ice for bartenders. He said when the weather’s nice, the crowds have been great. “It’s very weather-dependent.”

Thompson has given new life to a wooden, metal-sided elevator that he thinks dates back to 1901.

More than two years ago, one of his first steps in the restoration was painting in black letters, “BEER,” on the tin roofs that face the sky and railroad tracks.

Sheltered by the elevator, he has a homemade, C-shaped bar. It’s an open-air setup. Thompson built patios from thousands of railroad ties and old bridge planks. Automotive- and fuel-themed signs and memorabilia adorn a shed across a dirt roadway from the elevator. Conversation pieces abound. Rusty car grilles. Chrome nameplates. A tire swing. A fender from an old Dodge Super Bee. License plates used as sheet metal patches.

“You walk around and every nook and cranny you’ll see things you didn’t see before,” Brady said.

Among the visitors Saturday was Bureau County sheriff Jim Reed, who had been hearing about the place, and the traffic. As long as he was there, Reed bought a shirt, designed by Thompson, a 1992 Princeton High School graduate whose main job is operating a graphics business.

Thompson is not serving food yet, but Wyanet Community Club was selling food there Saturday.

Source: News Tribune