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

Sugar Tramps
photos and text are from Chapter Ten in Footprints in the Sugar
(photo credit: The Sugar Press, various editions)

The men and women who worked for the Great Western Sugar Company.
The Great Western Sugar Company was unlike any company of its time. During the first half of the twentieth century the company established benchmark records in the production of refined sugar, development and commercial production of mechanized farm machinery that modernized the sugar beet industry, the capability to produce sugar from discard molasses, and transformed the beet sugar industry through research within company labs and in fields of sugar beets. Yet, none of the accomplishments could have been achieved without the men and women who worked for Great Western. Its success was intricately interwoven with the grit and devotion of its employees.

Great Westerners, a.k.a. Sugar Tramps, who retired from the company stuck pretty close to home. In choosing a place to live after their retirement, they tended to stay among the people they knew the best, in the familiar surroundings near the sugar mills where they spent almost all of their working years.

Enjoy photographs and quips from more than 500 Sugar Tramps
in Chapter Ten of Footprints in the Sugar.


Those who were proud to call themselves Sugar Tramps (workers in the beet sugar industry) were a unique group of workers, in particular those who worked for the Great Western Sugar Company. Not only did they dedicate themselves to decades of loyal service to a single employer, they were also willing to relocate to serve the company at more than one factory.

Lifetime friendships among the Sugar Tramps were created within the red brick walls of the various Great Western factories...those friendships did not end when employment ended or diminish as the factories were closed, abandoned or torn down. The Sugar Tramps should not be forgotten, as they too were American pioneers.
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