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Branch Houses of RIPC

Although not a primary regional branch house of RIPC, the OKC branch seemed to have a larger role than the Western Branch Office. Advertising bearing its marks is fairly common place indicating it had a thriving business. Catalogs would have come from the Southern Branch House at Dallas.

The once proud Rock Island Implement Co of Oklahoma City Oklahoma still stands, although a ghost of the once proud building built in 1909. Today, the building has been empty for decades, but is currently part of a proposed revitalization effort so there is some hope still the building may be spared. The National Historic Register has a number of errors in its application, most glaringly an attribute to its construction by the RI Railroad.

The OKC Branch Office was added to the National Historic register in 1983

Address: 29 E. Reno Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

For more photos visit the Waymark gallery


Rock Island Implement Co of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma†

The Northern Branch House of the RIPC, also called the Great Northern Implement Co was probably the most prolific and independent of the main branch houses. Advertising from the branch is plentiful, as are promotional items. Minnesota now contains a large concentration Rock Island tractors and collectors.

Now mostly refered to as the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company building, the building was giving historic landmark status in 1977 and is currently loft apartments. Designed by architects Kees and Colburn, the building is considered a good example of Louis Sullivans influence. The original building built in 1901 when the office moved from St Paul, was destroyed by fire on may 28, 1910 and rebuilt as the current building.

Northern Rock Island Plow Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota†

The most famous legacy of the Rock Island Plow Company is probably the building that once housed the Southern Branch House of the Rock Island Plow Company. After the branch house burned down in 1901, it was rebuilt as a seven story building in 1903. After RIPC shut down, the building was sold finally to D. Harold Byrd who would lease it to the state of Texas. On Nov 22 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, a temporary employee, would shoot president John F. Kennedy from the 6th floor of the former RIPC building that had become the Texas School Book Repository. Today, the building is a historical attraction and contains the 6th Floor Museum, housing a collection of artifacts relating to the assassination and the building.††

In 1894, the 411 Elm property was sold for $9,000 to RIPC. Four years later, the company built a five-story brick structure. Struck by lightning and burnt on May 4, 1901, it was replaced the same year by the present-day structure. The Southern Branch house was probably the second most active branch house for the company, and probably diverged the most from the parent company. Its catalog was heavily slanted towards southern agriculture, and it was the first to add a gas engine line to its catalog.

Address: 411 Elm Dallas, Texas on Dealey Plaza

Southern Rock Island Plow Co Dallas, Texas

The third main branch house for the company was the Eastern Rock Island Plow Co in Indianapolis. Although not as large as the North and South Offices, the eastern branch covered the prosperous eastern region of the US. The Ohio offices seemed fairly active, and the eastern catalog did not differ much from the main office catalog. Advertising and promotional items are fairly common with the Heider letter opener being a fairly common find. There may have been three sub branch houses in Ohio, they show up on no literature but are on a couple of advertising items

Nothing remains today of the offices, nor can I find any indication of when they were torn down and little is known about the office itself.

Former Address: 409-413 S Penn. Indianapolis, Indiana


Eastern Rock Island Plow Co of Indianapolis, Indiana

Of the four main regional branch houses, the Western Rock Island Plow Co was probably the least well known. Literature and promotional items are not as common as the other three and it seems like they had less of an impact than the other three. Part of this may have been that Rock Island never offered large prairie busting steamers, tractors and threshers so never made the inroads other companies did.†

Nothing is known about the buildings location, address or current status

Western Rock Island Plow Co of Omaha, Nebraska

Below: Photo taken in the Branch Office circa 1914

Current photos from Wikipedia and advertising company, links open offsite.

Right: Southern Rock Island Plow Co Branch office, now the infamous Texas School Book Depository. (Image from Wikipedia)

Address: 616 - 628 S 3rd St Minneapolis, MN

Sixth Floor Museum official Site

More Historical Landmark information can be read HERE

Secondary Branch Houses
Main Branch Houses

Established prior to 1880 and the reorganization from B.D. Buford & Co to RIPC, the Kansas City, Mo office was apparently the longest running branch office and was probably the fourth official branch office. The St Joseph, Mo branch office was still running when KC was established, but by the mid 1890ís all operations had likely moved from St Joseph to KC merging the two. Although it was not a main branch office, it did seem to have an active management and KC promotional items and ads are not uncommon. Wagons and buggies seem to have been a major seller for KC as they were promoted heavily. KC seems to have followed a similar catalog as Oklahoma City, but also pulled heavily from the main company.

Address: 1310 W 13th St Kansas City, MO, according to 1899 information.† Although many of the buildings in the area remain, it appears this one was torn down and replaced by a garage .

Rock Island Implement Co of Kansas City, Missouri

St. Joseph, MO

I can find no records to indicate the location of the branch house in St Joseph. I believe it would have been established no later than 1880 and was in operation for a few years circa 1880 in conjunction with the Kansas City, Mo branch house, but by 1895 the newer and larger KC Branch house had absorbed its operations and territory. This was probably the second branch house.

†St Paul, MN

I find only brief mentions of the St Paul branch office, it was likely established in the early 1880ís and moved to Minneapolis in 1901. This was likely the third branch house opened.

B.D. Buford & Co Branch Houses

Little is mentioned about the Sioux Falls, SD branch office although it was established no later then the early 1900ís. I have not seen a lot of material from this office, and it likely followed the Western Branch Office catalog. Today, the building still remains


Address 317 N Phillips Sioux Falls, SD A really neat 3d view of the building can be seen HERE

Rock Island Plow Co of Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I have almost nothing on the Denver Branch house, and it may even be argued it was not a full branch house. It is included in the 1924 catalog as a branch house, and on some later brochures. It is absent from most publications. Address 1408 Wazee Street Denver, Colorado. The building from the 1924 catalog from that address remains. The building to the right is unknown.

Rock Island Implement Co of Denver, Colorado

By 1880 the B.D. Buford & Company had already established two branch houses in Missouri and would go on to establish four major regional hub branch houses, and another four sub regional branch houses. Its unknown exactly how much autonomy each branch house had, but certainly each was run to some degree as its own company with its own catalog tailored to its region, and its own decisions on other companies to act as jobbers for.† In addition, an office was maintained for Exports and Foreign Contracts at 115 Broad St, New York NY.

St Louis, MO

Records indicate that B.D. Buford & Co had an official branch house at 417 N Main, St Louis IL. Although some vintage buildings remain in the area that is now N 1st Street between the Eads and Martin Luther Bridges near the waterfront where google places it, that building is gone. I can find no records showing its appearance. I believe this branch house would have been the first branch house opened, however, by 1900 it no longer appeared on Rock Island advertisements or releases except for the 1924 catalog.

Rock Island Plow Co of St Louis, Missouri