A grain elevator is a building used to store grain and prepare it for eventual shipment. It is usually a tall frame, metal, or concrete structure with compartments inside, or it can be an interconnected series of buildings. It can also mean the device for loading grain into a building. A grain storage facility on a farm is usually called the granary.
They are often located near railroad lines. Until the 1930s, most grain elevators were owned by railroad companies. 
Modern grain elevators are powered by internal combustion engines or electric motors.
The first grain elevators in the U.S. were constructed in the 1840s by Joseph Dart, a retail merchant in Buffalo, NY. He designed structures that could be located near shipping ports and that would take advantage of gravity to force grain through chutes into bins or trucks for easy transportation.