Next long-overdue visit on the ghost tour of empty northern Colorado sugar beet factories takes us to the small town of Ovid (population 318), in Sedgewick County, in the very northeast corner of the Colorado, along I-76 and the South Platte river. Not many have heard of Ovid but it was in the news for a few days this past September 2013 as the rushing flood waters of the South Platte made their approach and threatened to flood the town. Ovid is also known by its stop on the Pony Express trail.
1940 Census Map of Ovid (population 650) showing the river and Union Pacific railroad to the south. US-138 was the highway access to Ovid, long before I-76 opened in 1970.
Of all of the factories we've seen, Ovid's factory looks the most haunted as it sits on the lonely eastern plains with all of its windows boarded up with weathered plywood. Adding to the striking effect is a large graveyard of arranged farm equipment in front of the factory and a surrounding town that has seen better days.
[Shameless disclosure on all the pictures here: they are six years old, from January 2008! I thought I would be going through NE Colorado again since then, with a chance to get newer pictures, but that hasn't happened. Going by modern satellite views, I don't think much has changed]
The factory administration building in front:
Ovid was a true company town and became incorporated in 1925 while the huge Great Western Sugar Company factory was still being built just east of town. With irrigation from the South Platte, the surrounding area had proven that it could successfully grow beets but the crops had to be transported to Sterling or Eaton for processing. When Great Western decided to build a new state of the art factory to accommodate the NE Colorado area growers, Ovid was chosen among two neighboring towns, Julesburg and Sedgewick.
Ovid is the only northern Colorado sugar beet town that has lost population since their factory was shut down. Unlike most of the other factory towns (Ft. Collins and Sterling would be the exceptions), Ovid still celebrates their factory town history, including having their Dinky on display in a small park:
Amalgamated Sugar retains factory ownership today, which they use as a storage facility. The silos were freshly painted when I was there and these can easily be seen from I-76:
Outside of the factory is a boneyard of vintage agricultural implements:
And for a Longmont connection with Ovid, Longmont's head librarian in 1926, Genevieve Dorsett, mysteriously left her position to move to Ovid when the factory opened there, with her new husband who was a Great Western employee. They lived in Ovid for ten years before moving to Ft. Collins. You can read more about her in my hack genealogy effort back when I was a library volunteer.
The quiet little town of Ovid (in 2008):
Ovid's art-deco style Platte Valley High School:
And how it looked in the early 1920s:
|Photo credit: Denver Public Library Digital Collection|
One final look, closed for almost thirty years now:
Continuing series on the northeastern Colorado beet sugar factories: