Footprints in the Sugar
A History of the Great Western Sugar Company
written by Candy Hamilton

Factories & Rural Towns
photos and text are from Chapter Four in Footprints in the Sugar

"This was a strange new sound on the high plains;
the rumble and thump of giant  factory wheels where before there had been only rural, precarious ways for Westerners to make a living..."

- excerpt from "Fulfillment: The Hum of Wheels" in the Great Western Sugar Company publication
Beets Were the Answer; courtesy Fort Morgan Museum

(Great Western Sugar Company factory photos credit: Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Department)

The remnants of the old Great Western factories lay like slumbering gentle giants, calmly trying to protect and preserve a nearly forgotten industrial era. The majority of factories sit abandoned with broken windows, full of rusting equipment long since switched off and laid to rest. But the factories, whether intact or just crumbling ruins, still have a story to tell, an overpowering desire to not be forgotten. Each year the relics accumulate more dust and the equipment within, more rust. Yet their spirits survive and their stories yearn to be remembered and preserved for future generations.

Footprints in the Sugar preserves the past for all generations.

Great Western Sugar Company factories

Fort Collins
Fort Lupton
Fort Morgan




OHIO: (subsidiaries)

and also...
Goodland, Kansas

Click on GW emblem
to read Foreword
written by
Colorado historian
Kenneth Jessen.

(pdf format)

You can stand on a factory site and feel a presence, a sense of what the Great Western Sugar Company was and what it meant to thousands of men, women, and their families. By simply walking on factory grounds you can begin to understand the influence the sugar company must have had on the economy and agriculture of Colorado.

Take the time to visit a factory site. Stand quietly and tune out the sounds of the modern world around you. Listen to what the factory has to say. Savor the moment and walk away knowing an essential part of our history will stay with you forever. Become a living part of that history, tell others of the aura that cloaked the factory you visited, tell them of the strength you felt when touching the brick walls of one of the structures. Tell people of the strange presence you felt when walking across the grounds, yet when you looked over your shoulder expecting to see someone, no one was there. Listen to the silenced voices that once reverberated off the factory walls. Remember a grand part of Colorado's past, lest it be forgotten forever.

(photo credit: The Sugar Press, courtesy Overland Trail Museum)

1905 to 1955

The research that flowed from the Great Western Sugar Company throughout its first fifty years of operation changed the shape of industry, commerce, and agriculture in the United States as well as in many regions of the world outside U.S. borders. The company's discoveries were countless and at times incredible. Great Western's American spirit of innovation overcame many obstacles. Its adaptation to new technology came easily. There was always an incessant tinkering with machines and methods by sugar beet growers and Great Western scientists that made the progress of the industry in the North and South Platte River valleys as dramatic as that of the fur traders or miners. The development of the Great Western factory network helped to direct population and capital to the outlying districts of Colorado and other states...The beet sugar industry furnished a greater proportion of the income on the farms in the North and South Platte River valleys than any other single crop.

(credit: William John May Jr., The Great Western Sugarlands:
The History of the Great Western Sugar Company and the Economic Development of the Great Plains,")

That a single industry should treble the population of the county, bring wealth to its inhabitants, and make its agricultural products the envy of the nation is scarcely conceivable.
Gering Courier, November 1918
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