Friday, January 16, 2009

Eaton Colorado Sugar Factory

Next in the northeast Colorado beet sugar factory series is Eaton, the third factory in our area, and it was built in 1902 (the same year as the Greeley factory). It was ready to operate for the fall beet harvest of that year (called a "campaign" in sugar factory terms).

Eaton is just eight miles up the road from Greeley, on US-85, and is named after the tenth governor of Colorado, Benjamin Eaton, whose family was an early settler of the Poudre valley area in Weld County. Eaton went on to master irrigation and built some notable canals and reservoirs in his time. He is reported to have donated the sixty acres on which the Eaton sugar factory was built.

Funded and built by the Eaton Sugar Company and costing $750,000, it too was eventually bought and consolidated into the Great Western Sugar Company in 1905. The full processing capacity of the Eaton factory was 600 tons of beets per day.

The Eaton factory from around 1918, with the "shoebox" look, puffing out black smoke from its coal plant. The long flat structure on the right is the warehouse that was used to store the manufactured sugar.

The Eaton sugar factory was closed in 1977, giving it a lifetime of 75 years. It still stands today in 2009, in ruins, just east of downtown. Notice that the water tower is still apparently intact.

The always-present factory administration building up front:

Many of the sugar factories have these black stars on the brick. If you know what these are for, or what they signify, let me know!

Eaton's factory is in the same class as the one in Loveland and ours in Longmont: redevelopment has thus far been too expensive and no plan has been put forward yet that can outweigh the the environmental cleanup and demolition costs.

This factory was rare in that in had two residences on the property, perhaps for the factory manager or foreman, and an assistant. At least one other factory had dormitory rooms on the top floor of their administration building for the same purpose.

The obligatory sugar factory "railroad tracks to nowhere" picture. The Eaton factory was served by the Union Pacific line.

Another sight you'll sometimes see at old sugar factory sites are white mounds of lime. Limestone was brought in by the train cars (Wyoming was a common source), heated up in onsite kilns, and crushed to make lime powder that was used in the factory sugar extraction process. After being used, it was it was dumped outside:

One more look from the back:

Continuing series on the northeast Colorado beet sugar factories:


Allen said...

IIRC Kenneth Jensen's The Great Western Railway says that the Eaton plant was served by the Great Western, the railway of the plants owner, and to serve it the Great Western had to cross the UP. But that's just off the top of my head.

drowdyd44 said...

To answer your question about the black stars that are common on older masonary structures. The black stars that are found on the Eaton sugar factory and other simmular buildings built in the USA durning the early 1900's to 1950's are a sign of a sructural problem found when the weight of the roof or upper floors pushes down on the outside load walls that cause the walls to bow out and fail or separate from the ajoining wall causing early structural colapaps. So the stars are the support footing for a long rod or cabel that is stretched from one side to the other and tightned as soto pullthe building exteriour walls back in and support the larger loads put on them. We train on spotting for the stars or square with the bolt in them as this is a true safty hazard in the event of a fire that could heat the rod and actually cause walls to be pushed over when the steal rods are heated and begin to elong causing the walls to colapse.

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Alan Steele said...

Those 2 residential buildings were indeed family residences. Ron Sword, the son of the factory manager, invited me and 2 or 3 other boys for an overnighter in the larger of the two,when we were in the 3rd grade (I believe). We were in the 2nd floor bedroom with the windows facing out to the road. We had a blast.

Historic Nelson Ranch Woodland CA said...

Hi I am looking for anyone wiht information on what was historically dumped into the unlined sugar ponds from 1980 back.

We are next to the Spreckels Sugar Factory in Woodland Ca and are having problems.

From water quality to air and soil

Of concern are but not limited to Arsenic (used in the beet growing and then in wash water), Hex Cr, PCB's shipped onto this site via rail from other sugar factories with no tracking other then in EPA reports of storage in above ground septic tanks, lime dust and potential TAC's (toxic air contaminates) from chemicals put into the mud ponds and unlined ponds, lead actetate used in the Sugar process until 1980 and landfilled onsite, asbestos used onsite and buried (100pds daily!), aluminum.
As well as a 10,000 foot 18"underground pipe running under adjacent homes that is rusted out.

potential problems include, cancer, ashtma, boils, rashes, nose bleeds, corrosion, water quality, dust in homes etc...

Anyone with any information, please contact us

Thank you!

E-man said...

Great images and history! My buddy and I explored the Eaton plant quite a bit in our youth in the 80s, despite many attempts at preventing unauthorized guests. Never new much about the history back then and certainly had no idea how old it was. Could have probably lost our lives playing in the deprecated buildings many times over! Rode our bikes all along the lime hills, too, always wondering what this white stuff was and how it might affect us later in life. Great compilation of history, thanks very much!