The Greeley factory is interesting, in that:
- The Greeley factory processed beets until 2002, giving it a full 100 years of operation -- a lifetime much longer than most Front Range factories.
- The Greeley factory is no more! Unlike other ex-sugar factory cities (like Longmont) that are struggling with how to re-develop their crumbling factory sites and deal with the associated environmental problems, the factory owner (Western Sugar Cooperative) and the City of Greeley have successfully marketed and sold the property to a cheese company, which included a plan for razing the site. Just last year (2008), the factory was demolished by Colorado Cleanup, a Littleton company.
There is a video on youtube of the concrete smokestack coming down in November 2008. Perhaps Longmont will experience a similar scene in the future.
A sugar beet factory needed three crucial things before any investment could be made in its construction:
- Water: the Greeley factory was built on some bottom land by the Poudre River, and used a well to pump one million gallons of water per day, for the manufacturing of sugar.
- Railroad access. Not only to get the beets to the factory, but also to bring in coal, limestone, and coke, and to carry away the finished sugar product and leftover beet pulp which was used to feed livestock. A Union Pacific railroad spur was constructed to reach the Greeley factory, and 60% of the beets sliced in Greeley came via rail.
- Beets, of course. Before any factory was built, enough acres of committment had to be contracted with local farmers to grow beets.
I should have taken some pictures of the old factory before it was torn down (lesson learned!), but luckily the Google Maps Street View crew visited Greeley in the past few years, and still has the site captured in pre-demolishment form, in its photographic memory (until it gets refreshed someday)!
The front entrance to the factory (photos courtesy of Google) at 1302 1st Avenue in Greeley. You can still see some elements of the original factory in the picture above:
A January 2009 perspective from the same entrance fence shows nothing left but the sign. The factory has been torn down and trucked away.
The tracks stop here, on the way to factory-no-more:
Continuing series on the Colorado Front Range beet sugar factories: