(Editorial Note: Part 175 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Preston News, 1911-1912; Franklin County Citizen, 1913-1920; Franklin County Historical Society, org; The Oneida Stake, 100 Years of LDS History in Southeast Idaho.)
In addition to the flour mills of Franklin County there were other opportunities for area farmers to market their grain products. The mills had competition from locations quite distant that affected the prices of a bushel of wheat, barley or oats.
The Utah Northern Railroad chugged its way along the western edge of the county and this allowed connections with buyers to the northwest and in Montana. The Oregon Short Line connected this area to Cache Valley’s rail lines on the south with a depot in downtown Preston and others stretching to the northeast.
In 1911, the Preston News describes a business that seems to have delivered Franklin County crops to distant buyers. “A leading enterprise here is the Farmers' Grain and Milling Co. and the Crescent Creamery Co. both concerns under the management of R. C. Peterson, Jr, who has established a fine cash market for wheat and all kinds of grain. Mr. Peterson is also a large buyer of cream.” Farmers brought their wagon loads of produce to Peterson’s receiving station in Preston and from there it was sent on to its destination, often a company in Salt Lake City.
There was a grain elevator in Weston, the W. O. Kay Elevator Company. A Mr. Barrett appealed to the county commissioners when they raised taxes on the facility in 1917, along with that of the Farmers’ Grain and Milling Co. They won their appeal with a significant reduction being charged. Another source of competition to the mill owners of Franklin County was the Gilt Edge Roller Mis of Ricmond, Utah. It was a going concern before 1920 and is still in business just south of the state border.
A grain elevator and a few foundations are all that is left of the town of Coulam, south of Banida. The business center of the once prosperous town was located about a quarter of a mile east of the railroad on the road to Banida. “Robert C. Geddes opened his Coulam Mercantile store in about 1912. Robert had a chance to get more land near the railroad tracks and he, with other men, wrote to the head office of the Oregon Short Line in Salt Lake City to have a spur and grain elevator installed at Banida. It wasn’t long until it was granted and trains were stopping at Coulam. A post office was then established. More families moved there. The railroad people renamed the spur ‘Coulam.’ Banida leaders urged Robert to build in Banida, but he preferred to have his business closer to the railroad - and thus founded a town.”
Coulam was then a thriving center for trading and shipping of cattle and grain and a large grain elevator was built. The Inter-Ocean Grain Elevator became known as the Coulam Elevator. It was managed by brothers, Hugh L. and Mose Geddes for about 10 years. An ad in the Preston News of 1912 states the business was “prepared to fill the community wants in coal, hay, grain, flour and cereals and carried a good supply of seed grain and alfalfa seed.” There was some boasting of having new scales that had been thoroughly tested, assuring customers of getting the correct weight.
The first time the name of Coulam appears on the Oregon Short Line employees time table is in 1914 when it was as a spur 960 feet long. The name of Coulam on this time table only lasted until 1923, about a 10 year life span for the little community. Coulam's business center had nice homes, a store, an implement house, a confectionery, blacksmith shop and lumberyard. “Sometime between 1915 and 1920 a station was built. Eli Howell of Clifton was the station agent and his family lived upstairs in the station. Howell said that the station was established to handle business pertaining to the Twin Lakes reservoir being built in the hills ... and its irrigation pipeline.”
The elevator and pieces of sidewalks are all that remain of this Franklin County ghost town.