Sugarbeets … another time and place

Great Western Sugar Beet plant, Longmont, CO
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Driving into Longmont last week, I stopped to take some photos of an establishment that was once the center of commerce in this farming community. It fit into my No Comfort Zone challenge because I had to reprogram my habits and pull over, get out, cross the field and do the deed. This building has been beckoning me FOREVER and I finally did it.

This is a photo of the Great Western Sugar Company‘s Longmont plant. The Front Range of Colorado was dotted with these plants because sugar beets were highly lucrative for all concerned. The warm dry weather helped .make the sugar content just right and the cool nights added the perfect touch.

This sugar mill was built in 1905 and stopped production in 1980. Rail lines went right to the plant and Colorado sugar was made and used across the country.

But, alas, the once thriving building is now defunct with only a hint of the beauty and power that once stood there.

Great Western Sugar Beet plant, Longmont, CO


Why would a community celebrate sugarbeets?

Great Western Sugar Mill

Family Fun at the Mead Sugarbeet Festival

Mead Sugarbeet Festival: Make it a day to play!

Mead Sugarbeet Festival is so sweet!

27 thoughts on “Sugarbeets … another time and place

  1. Rebekah

    Yeah, one wonders what happened. Same here, in Saint John … the sugar refinery was one of the biggest employers. Now there’s just an enormous, empty space where they buildings once stood.


  2. I fully understand the s-t-r-e-t-c-h of something so simple as getting out of the car and crossing the field to ‘do the deed.’ When I took photos in our community park last week, I had to first move through an uncertainty of how it would feel to just walk around taking random photos with a camera. ‘Weirdo.’ To my delight, nothing about it felt ‘weird’ and I wasn’t even uncomfortable when encountering neighbors on their evening walk. Oh, the little things we do to step outside our comfort. Honoring you for inspiring us all to continue our s-t-r-e-t-c-h. And I love how you’ve paid homage to a time once filled with life and now part of our history. xo


  3. Ghost towns always intrigue me. It’s both a curiosity of what that place was like when it thrived and a bit sad that the people are gone, but the buildings are still there.


  4. Hi,
    It is always a shame to see places like this change, I always think of the people that used to work in these places, and if they were lucky enough to find other jobs, usually workers in the hundreds. So very sad really.


  5. The plants started to shut down and now the sugar beet farmers have to drive miles and miles away with their loads of sugar beets. They are often dumped in a field and then hauled out later in the season.

    There was so much commerce that was affected by this type of farming. Everyone that touched sugar beets benefited. The owners, farmers, immigrants, bankers, railroads, houses were built, schools grew … and now – broken windows as a reminder.


  6. Yes, something so simple but put off time and again. There are some things we put off but once we commit it’s all so wonderful. For me it was to stop, get out, move, position, move, click, move, click and not much else.

    Thanks for understanding and joining me on my journey!


  7. It is sad especially when buildings like this one are either destroyed or eroded instead of repaired and recreated. It’s a huge chunk of change but the end result can be something astounding. It’s all about vision ( and a few billion!)


  8. When I moved to Colorado, I was quite surprised to hear of the state’s role in bring sugar to the world. It’s like northern Maine, where the primary crop is potatoes. Who would know that, who hasn’t spent time looking at the state? Nice post!


  9. You are so right, when Great Western Sugar shut their doors, so many people lost their jobs. The loss hit every aspect of the community.

    Sugarbeets are still grown today but they are no longer the center of commerce.


  10. You’ve got it! Who knew that Colorado produced so much sugar? Sugarbeet farming requires lots of water, warm weather and cool nights. We’ve got the ingredients to make AMAZING sugar!

    Potatoes in Maine …. the things I’m learning! Thanks for your comments!


  11. Wonderful picture. You can just imagine it, in it’s heyday!
    Generations of families working there for pay, the future and community.
    The company got everything it could out of the beet and it’s workers
    and sadly, like so many other ways of life, it’s gone…


  12. Sugarbeet farming is very labor intensive. In the heat of the summer’s day, you can drive by sugarbeet fields and see the laborers bent over with their hoes working in the midday sun. They’ve come up with a new type of seed that grows bigger and is less resistant to weeds. As you can imagine, there is a huge amount of controversy over the genetically modified seeds.

    Now when they harvest the sugarbeets, the drive is 25+ miles to the area where they are weighted and dumped. Things certainly do change!


  13. This is sad of course… we live same things in here too. But I should say these are wonderful photographs… I am glad you captured them, they will be so precious in times… Thanks and Love, nia


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