The Johnstown, Colorado Sugar Beet Facility

If you have read my About Me page, you know I collect vintage images of Fort Collins and the surrounding area. The one place I go somewhat farther afield is with sugar beet photographs. I admit to a love affair with images of anything sugar beet related. In this area, I go beyond Larimer County and collect images of the 13 sugar beet facilities that are classified as Northern Colorado factories. I’ve shared images from three of these locations in the past, Fort Collins and Loveland, in separate posts on their sugar beet factories, and Windsor, CO, as part of a post on the town. (I’ve placed links to these posts at the end of this article.) In this post, I’m going to share my images of the Johnstown, CO facility.

Much of the information on the Johnstown facility comes from Footprints in the Sugar: A History of the Great Western Sugar Company, a behemoth of a book by Candy Hamilton.

In 1901, the Loveland sugar beet processing factory opened and many farmers, including those in Johnstown, were growing sugar beets. In the fall, beets had to be harvested, loaded into wagons, and transported to beet dumps for transfer to rail cars. Below are some photographs of the process in Johnstown, CO.

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Drawing Beets, Johnstown, Colo. Postmarked 1908. (Photographer Unknown)

The note on the back of the postcard identifies the driver of the wagon, “Harry, this will look natural to you. It is Ed Miller driving one of Will Purvis’s teams.” Maybe someone out there will recognize these names.

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Beets Arriving in Town, Johnstown, Colo. Postmarked 1909. (Photographer Unknown)

Every small town in Northern Colorado made postcards like this one, with groups of wagons, filled with sugar beets, coming to the local beet processing plant or to a rail siding to transfer their beets to rail cars. Below is a close-up of the crowd.

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Beets Arriving in Town, Johnstown, Colo. Close-Up
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Beet Dump, Johnstown, Colo, Postmarked 1909. (Photographer Unknown)

This is a great example of an early beet dump. I used it in an earlier post on beet dumps. The link to that post is shown below:

The Sugar Beet Dump

By 1910, sugar beet processing plants were going up all around Northern Colorado. Johnstown, despite its small population of around 200 people, wanted its own plant. Milliken, an even smaller town a few miles east of Johnstown, offered to assist in the effort. It took a while and a great deal of effort but on May 6, 1920, the Great Western Sugar Company (GWS) announced its intention to build a sugar beet factory between Johnstown and Milliken. Plans were drawn up and the plant was expected to be ready for the 1921 harvest. But, in late 1920, just months after construction started on the plant, the world sugar market collapsed, and work on the facility was halted.

GWS used the time wisely. Sugar beet possessors were struggling with the problem of what to do with discard molasses, the syrup that remains after the beets were processed. While sugar remained in the molasses, it couldn’t be economically extracted. Instead, the byproduct was sold for pennies as livestock feed. GWS was determined to use this time to find a way to successfully extract the sugar from the molasses.

GWS sent a team to Germany and France to study how they were handling molasses. The team returned with an idea and a plan that would use the unfinished Johnstown plant to process the molasses from all their sugar beet factories. New plans were drawn up, construction re-started, and the new Johnstown Molasses Desugarizing plant was operating in October 1926.

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Johnstown Molasses Desugarizing Plant, October 25, 1926. (Photographer Unknown)

This image was made just prior to the plant’s grand opening. It ran in a newspaper with this caption:

Biggest of Its Kind in World – Million-dollar sugar beet molasses desugarizing plant erected at Johnstown, Colo., by the Great Western Sugar company, which will be formally dedicated Thursday, Oct. 28. This is the largest plant of its kind in the world and will add much to the prosperity of northern Colorado. The public is invited to attend the dedication.

On opening day, 4,000 visitors toured the plant. German sugar technologists visited the plant in 1928 writing, “What we have seen at Johnstown really astonished us.” The small community of Johnstown was now home to one of the most unique sugar plants in the world.

The Johnstown facility stayed relatively stable until April 1953, when GWS decided to build a monosodium glutamate (MSG) plant adjacent to the sugar facility. MSG had become an important flavor enhancer for many food products. Construction was quickly underway.

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Construction of MSG Plant in Johnstown, CO, January 1, 1954. (Photographer Unknown)

This was another newspaper photograph printed on January 1, 1954 with the caption:

Under construction currently at Johnstown is this monosodium glutamate factory of the Great Western Sugar Co. When completed in October 1954, it will employ some 120 workers.

An imposing four-story structure, the new MSG plant opened in November 1954.

About the same time Johnstown’s MSG plant opened, the Fort Collins sugar beet factory closed. Sugar beets were beginning to run into hard times. One-by-one the Northern Colorado sugar plants closed. In 1977, the Johnstown plants heard the news of their closure.

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Johnstown Workers Discuss News of Closing, January 4, 1977. (Photographer John Sunderland)

This photograph was from the Denver Post and ran in the newspaper on January 5, 1977 with a short caption: “Mike Evans, left, and Ernie Anderson discuss plant closings. Both will lose their jobs as mechanics when Johnstown facility shuts down.”

According to Footprints in the Sugar, both the molasses and MSG plants were closed. The plants sat idle until 1983 when Adolph Coors Co. bought the facility. Coors ran parts of the plant, under several different names, until it sold the facility to Colorado Sweet Gold (CSG), in February 1991. CSG used the plant to make cornstarch and related products. On August 3, 2001, CSG closed the plant and auctioned off much of the equipment. In 2005, many of the buildings were torn down.

CSG apparently still owns the property, their sign is still on the entrance, though I couldn’t find what it is being used for today, if anything. Below are two “now” photographs of the site, located on State Highway 60, between Johnstown and Milliken.

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Colorado Sweet Gold, Johnstown, CO, September 2019. View from East Side. (Photographer M. E. McNeill)
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Colorado Sweet Gold, Johnstown, CO, September 2019. View from West Side. (Photographer M. E. McNeill)

Below are the links to my earlier posts on the Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor sugar beet plants.

The Fort Collins Sugar Beet Factory: The Smell of Prosperity

The Loveland, Colorado Sugar Beet Factory

Images of Early Windsor, Colorado – Part 1

Windsor Town Link

Joe Fruhwith, Champion Sugar Beet Shoveler

During the first half of the 1900s, sugar beets were the big agricultural crop of Northern Colorado. The best sugar beet farmers received recognition and monetary awards from the sugar beet factories. Usually, a factory’s top ten farms were given awards at the annual end of season celebration, based on the tons of sugar beets they delivered per acre. The winners were the rock stars of the industry. In 1941, the Longmont, Colorado Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to sponsor their own sugar beet competition and the first world championship beet-shoveling contest was born.

Even in 1941, sugar beet farming was a very manual effort. The fields beets were manually planted and thinned. Adults and children used short handle hoes to weed around the young plants. When the plants were ready to harvest, the heavy beets were pulled from the ground and “topped” with a sharp knife called a hook. The leaves were thrown to one side and the topped beets piled between the rows. Below is a circa 1905 photograph of beet harvesting near Windsor, CO.

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Sugar Beet Harvesting, Windsor, Colorado, c. 1905

Horse-drawn wagons, and later trucks, followed the harvesters as men tossed the beets into the vehicles, using mostly pitch forks. This strength and skill was the one the Longmont, Colorado Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to recognize.

The championship test was as simple and strenuous as sugar beet harvesting. Each contestant had to move one and one-half tons of sugar beets (approximately 2,000 beets), from the ground into the bed of a truck. The winner of the first annual world championship beet-shoveling contest was Joe Fruhwirth, of Fort Collins, Colorado. Below is Joe’s photograph and the description of his performance that ran in local newspapers.

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Joe Fruhwirth, Champion Sugar Beet Shoveler, November, 1941.



Longmont, Colo.: Add sugar beet shoveling to your list of championships! Joe Fruhwirth, of Fort Collins, Colo.,  brought spectators to their feet in the crowded Roosevelt Stadium, as he became the first national champ sugar beet shoveler by throwing one and a half tons into the truck in five minutes, thirteen seconds. The champ ended up throwing the stray beets into the truck by hand, as he crawled around cleaning up the ground.”

Joe beat the second place finisher by 11 seconds to claim first place and the $75 award.

Way to go, Joe!


The Loveland, Colorado Sugar Beet Factory

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Topping Sugar Beets near Loveland, Colo., c. 1910

Since my long range plan is to donate my image collection to the Fort Collins Archive, I mostly buy images that fall within the scope of their collection. The one place I go off-base is with sugar beet images. I love the early images of the sugar beet industry, from families working sugar beet fields, as in the above image, to sugar beet dumps, to the factories. Instead of limiting my sugar beet purchases to Larimer County locations, I collect images from all 13 of the sugar beet factories that once operated in Northern Colorado. Over the next few months, I’ll share those images with you starting with this post of the Loveland sugar beet factory, the first one to open in Northern Colorado.

In 1900, a group of investors approached Loveland with a proposal to build a sugar beet factory. They placed conditions on their offer, including 1,500 acres adjacent to the plant that could be planted in sugar beets, and guarantees from local farmers for an additional 3,500 acres of sugar beets that could be processed in the new factory. Loveland met the demands and in 1901 the first real industrial plant opened in Northern Colorado. Below are a few early images of the Loveland factory.

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Building the Loveland Sugar Beet Plant, c. 1900.
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Beet Sugar Factory, Loveland, Colo., dated 1921.
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Sugar Factory, Loveland, c. 1910. Photograph by Townley.
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Loveland Sugar Beet Factory and Field, c. 1910.
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Great Western Sugar Factory, Loveland, c. 1920.

In 1905, the investors incorporated as the Great Western Sugar Company and began buying or building other sugar beet factories in Northern Colorado, including the factory they would build in Fort Collins in 1904. You can see my post on the Fort Collins factory by clicking here.

Just visible on the left side of the last image is a beet piler, unloading beets into the large piles that built up at the sugar factories during the harvest season. Below is a beet piler at work at the Loveland factory. I used this image previously in “The Sugar Beet Pilers” but it is too great an image not to repeat.

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Sugar Beet Piler, Loveland Sugar Beet Plant, c. 1945.

Finally, here are two recent images of the Loveland factory as it looks today. It is on Madison Avenue just south of East Eisenhower Blvd. Though the buildings are in disrepair, it is worth the trip to get an idea of the scale of these sugar beet plants. For their time, they were big production facilities.

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Loveland Sugar Beet Factory, November 23, 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.
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Loveland Sugar Beet Factory, November 23, 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.

Obviously, someone got tired of assuring visitors that this was the sugar factory.

You can see all my sugar beet posts by selecting the Sugar Beets category.

The Fort Collins Sugar Beet Factory: The Smell of Prosperity

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Fort Collins Sugar Beet Factory, North Side, c. 1910. Real Photo Postcard by F. P. Clatworthy.

Perhaps more than any other single event, the arrival of a sugar beet factory propelled Fort Collins, Colorado into the 20th century and the industrial age. The high-plains climate and terrain in the area proved well suited to this large root crop; by the turn of the century processing factories began to appear in Colorado, but not in Fort Collins.

Denver entrepreneur Charles Boettcher and others saw the potential for a Fort Collins plant. So business and community leaders formed a committee to raise capital for a sugar factory and to secure guarantees from farmers for 5,000 acres of sugar beets. On October 13, 1903, the committee made its first payment to Kilby Manufacturing for the Fort Collins factory. The factory was even underway before the first official payment. Below is a construction photograph, dated October 18, 1903.

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Construction of the Fort Collins Sugar Beet Plant, October 18, 1903. Unknown Photographer.

You can already see some of the gears, pipes, and vats that will make up the processing plant. If you look closely, one young man’s face is circled. On the back of the photograph is his name, John Siebenaler. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on him or the Siebenaler family in Fort Collins.

The plant opened here in 1904, near the Poudre River and the railroad tracks on the east side of the small town. At 10 o’clock on Monday morning, January 6, 1904, the Fort Collins sugar beet factory began to refine sugar. The Fort Collins Weekly Courier reported that the “event was signalized by the blowing of whistles, the ringing of bells, the firing of cannon and the hearty rejoicing of the people.”

Here is an image of the plant taken within a year or two of its start-up.

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Fort Collins Sugar Beet Factory, South Side, c. 1905. Printed Postcard.

This postcard has a message that gives some idea of the pride the plant brought to the community. “Uncle Ed: This is the Sugar Factory. I do wish you could see the beets they are hauling here. The crops are fine. Some of the beets weight from six to ten pounds. Addie.”

The 120-acre complex was located on the southeast corner of Vine and Linden Streets. It had seven major buildings, the central building measuring 70 feet by 300 feet and standing four stories tall. The facility cost a staggering $1.2 million and employed hundreds of workers.

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Fort Collins Sugar Beet Factory, West End, c. 1930. Printed Postcard

The factory received sugar beets from farmers’ wagons and from railcars and sent them through a complex, multi-stage process that produced refined sugar. But the sugar beet business was more than a factory. It also was an agricultural hub of beet farmers, rail sidings, beet dumps, irrigation ditches, and a host of suppliers, all funneling money into the Fort Collins community. (See an earlier post entitled “The Sugar Beet Dump.”) The 150-foot smoke stack declared that big agribusiness had arrived in Fort Collins.


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“Extracting Beet Sugar” Diagram by the Great Western Sugar Company, c. 1920

As this diagram from a bulletin produced by the Great Western Sugar Company shows, sugar refining was as much a chemical as an agricultural process. Pumps, pipes, slicers, distillers, centrifuges, and filters were all part of a highly technical process that produced an average of 10 teaspoons of refined sugar from each beet. The Fort Collins factory also included a Steffen House, a secondary process that extracted more sugar from molasses, usually a waste product of the refining process. The Greeley, Eaton, and Windsor factories shipped their molasses to Fort Collins for processing.

Experiments by the agricultural college and others found that the waste products of the beet industry, the beet tops cut off in the fields and the beet pulp and molasses from the factory, made nutritious feed for livestock. This fostered the cattle and sheep industries in Northern Colorado. Although beet pulp had an unfortunate odor (the pungent smell compared to “a slaughterhouse in midsummer,” by one man), Colorado’s former governor Benjamin Eaton said, “I smell prosperity.”

The 10 teaspoons of sugar per beet adds up when your are processing millions of beets. Below is a photograph of the bags of sugar, circa 1930.

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Bags of Sugar, Fort Collins Sugar Beet Factory, c. 1930. Photographer Unknown.

The Great Western Sugar Company reported that the Fort Collins factory annually produced the equivalent of 10,000 one-hundred pound bags of sugar and employed around 100 people continuously, increasing to over 400 during the beet processing “campaigns.”

Even before the factory was completed, beet farms sprang up around Fort Collins. Beets required precise farming techniques and were very labor intensive, but they generated more income for the farmers than any other crop. The factory paid almost $300,000 to local farmers in 1905, which increased to $500,000 by 1910.

 Wars, the economy, trade policies, and weather all impacted the profitability and viability of the sugar beet industry. Drought and high winds in the mid-1950s reduced the sugar beet acreage. The Fort Collins factory announced in 1955 that it would not operate, moving the harvested beets to other plants for processing. It never reopened. In 1967, the major buildings were razed and the area left to reinvent itself.

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Fort Collins Sugar Beet Site in 2008. Photograph by M. E. McNeill

Here is a photograph I took in 2008, looking at the site from approximately the same spot that Clatworthy did years ago. The view is much less impressive. Three of the original buildings remained, purchased by the city as a home for the street department. But thanks to the industry, Fort Collins had grown and become a real player in the new 20th century economy.

Next week, I’m going to return to the resorts of the Poudre Canyon and share some images between the Tunnel and Rustic.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page can click the “Sugar Beets” category to see the rest of my Beet posts.

The Sugar Beet Pilers

In the first decades of the 20th century, sugar beets were the primary business of Northern Colorado. The first beet processing plant was built in Loveland in 1901, followed by Greeley, Eaton, and then Fort Collins and Windsor. Others would come after them.

Sometime in October, the beets had to be harvested and rushed to the processing plants. It required a coordinated effort between farmers, railroads, and the processing plants. Two critical links were the transfers from the farmer’s wagon or truck to the railcar at the local rail sidings and from the railcar to the beet processing plant.

The earliest sidings had beet dumps. Beet dumps were covered in an earlier post entitled “The Sugar Beet Dump.”

In the 1920s, trucks started to replace horse drawn wagons on the farms. With horse and wagons, the local beet dumps needed to be within ten-miles of a beet farm. With trucks, longer trips were possible and fewer dumps were needed. The railroads began calling the local sidings “receiving stations” and started to mechanize them, both to reduce cost and to speed up the process.

As early as January 1921, the Fort Collins Courier mentioned the introduction of “power dumps with scoop conveyors,” By the 1930s, mechanized “beet pilers” were taking the place of beet dumps. Similar to the conveyor devices used in coal and ore mining, sugar beet pilers used hoppers, conveyor belts, and booms to move the beets from the dump trucks to the railcars or to the large piles of beets that collected at the factories during harvest time.

Truck on Ramp to Railcar, c. 1935. Location Unknown

The pilers came with many variations. This piler is probably an early one, since it is so basic. It seems to be part beet dump and part piler. Unfortunately, the photograph doesn’t have a specified location or date. I guess the date must be early in the transition, maybe circa 1935.

The beet truck is on the ramp with its bed being hoisted so the beets fall out. The beets traveled up the first conveyor to the small box structure that contains the grizzly (see the earlier post beet dumps) to remove dirt and debris. When the truck was empty and off the ramp, it drove between the legs of the screening shed and the dirt and debris was dumped back into the truck before the truck was weighed-out. By the way, you can see the scale house between the legs of the screening shed.

Finally, the beets were moved across the short conveyor and dropped into the rail car.

Newer Piler Dumping to Railcar, c. 1950. Location Unknown

Again the photograph doesn’t indicate a specific location or date but it is a newer piler, without a ramp and capable of emptying much bigger trucks. The long boom allowed it to empty beets into railcars or onto the outdoor storage piles you see in the distance. At factory locations, the storage piles could grow to over 20 feet high and hundreds of feet long before the factory was able to catch up with the inbound flow of beets.

Loveland Sugar Beet Piler, c. 1945

This piler was located at the Loveland sugar beet plant. While it isn’t dated, it looks older than the last piler in the previous photograph, maybe around 1945. I included the image because the piler is so different. You can clearly see the hoist that tips the truck bed. But how does the elevator work and what are the white bags or piles that are coming down the spiral chute in the middle of the picture?

Beet Piler in Field, 1968. Sterling, Colorado

As time went on, “mini” beet pilers began showing up in the sugar beet fields. This piler was photographed in a field in Sterling, Colorado and the license plate dates it to 1968. Before mechanization, the beets were pulled, topped, and left in the field in rows. Wagons drove along the rows and the beets were manually loaded into them. These field pilers took some of the labor and, presumably, some of the cost out of the process.

The story of the sugar beet industry in Colorado is a story of ups and downs. World War I was a boom period, probably the most profitable years for the sugar beet industry in Northern Colorado; but the depression in 1920, the dust bowl periods, and the price restrictions and labor shortages caused by World War II, all took their toll. In 1960, the Fort Collins processing plant was closed and the sugar beet industry as the major agricultural product was behind us. More on the history of the sugar beet industry when I cover the sugar beet plants in a future post.

If you know more about this topic, please use the comment box below to share your knowledge or stories with us.

This is the third article on sugar beets. Here are the first two articles:

Sugar Beet Demonstration Trains (September 25, 2016)

The Sugar Beet Dump (November 6, 2016)

On Thursdays, for the rest of December, I’m going to showcase an image (or images) that are fun, interesting, historical, or unusual and that require little or no story. I hope you enjoy them, starting with a fun image from CSU’s past.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post and click the “Sugar Beets” category to see all of my sugar beet posts.

The Sugar Beet Dump

In the first decades of the 20th century, sugar beets were the primary business of Northern Colorado. The first beet processing plant was built in Loveland in 1901, followed by Greeley, Eaton, and then Fort Collins and Windsor. Others would come after them.

Local beet farmers counted on migrant workers to help with the seasonal work. The beets were left in the ground as long as possible to maximize their sugar content and then, sometime in October, they had to be harvested and rushed to the processing plants. It required a coordinated effort between farmers, railroads, and the plants.

One of the critical links was the rail sidings where the beets were transferred from the farmer’s wagon to a railcar. The earliest sidings had shovel dumps. Farmers parked their wagons on a dock, adjacent to an open-top railcar, and then hand-shoveled their beets into the railcar.

When Northern Colorado began raising sugar beets, Carroll beet dumps were the rage. These beet dumps consisted of a ramp and a mechanism to tip the wagon load of beets into a rail car. Timothy Carroll had invented and patented the dump in California but, in 1901, he came to Northern Colorado to install his new dumps for the Loveland sugar beet factory. Here is an excerpt from the October 17, 1901, Fort Collins Weekly Courier:

“On Monday the workmen finished the beet dump [in Berthoud] and went to put in the machinery for the dump in Longmont. Mr. Carroll is putting in several of these dumps for the Loveland sugar factory, by which a load of beets can be placed from wagon into the car in two minutes. . . . The new dumping machine was quite an attraction to those who had time to visit it.”

If a farm was within eight to ten miles of a beet factory, the beets could be delivered by wagon directly to the factory by the farmer. Any farm farther away needed access to a beet dump, so dumps sprang up all over Northern Colorado.

Johnstown, Colorado Beet Dump, c. 1909

This is the kind of beet dump you would have found had you lived in Northern Colorado in the first part of the 1900s. This one was in Johnstown, Colorado around 1909.

A wooden ramp, this one long enough for multiple wagons to cue up in front of the dump platform, brought the wagon loads of beets above the level of the open rail car. When a loaded wagon was positioned on the platform, the wagon wheels were locked and a hoist raised one side of the wagon bed to dump the beets into the rail car. It was a very safe and efficient system.

Here’s what the weight-master of the Johnstown dump had to say about the Carroll beet dump’s performance during the 1902 sugar beet harvest. The quote is from then the May 20, 1903, Fort Collins Weekly Courier:

“We dumped 4,749 wagon loads, making 396 railcars. The dump worked perfectly. [One day] we weighed, dumped, and weighed back 43 wagon loads in 41 minutes and after dark at that.”

Brush, Colorado Beet Dump, 1909

Here is a closer look at the platform on a dump in Brush, Colorado, circa 1909.

Since the framers were paid by the pound, accurate weights were important to the sugar beet companies. Loaded wagons were weighed-in before they started up the ramp. As shown in this photograph, as the beets were dumped they struck a metal grate called a grizzly. Any debris or dirt on the beets fell through into a hopper. After the wagon came down the ramp, the hopper was emptied into the wagon and the wagon weighed-out. Subtracting the second weight from the first weight gave the weight of the sugar beets in the wagon that would be credited to the farmer’s account.

Wellington, Colorado Beet Dump. c. 1910

This real photo postcard shows the Wellington beet dump, circa 1910, and the rail cars used to transport the beets. Notice the wooden extenders on the tops of the car. Since sugar beets were relatively light, extenders were often added to the cars to increase their capacity.

In the 1920s, trucks started to replace horses and wagons on the farms and longer trips were possible and fewer dumps were needed. As early as January 1921, the Fort Collins Courier mentioned the introduction of “power dumps with scoop conveyors,” By the 1930s, mechanized beet pilers were taking the place of beet dumps but I’ll cover them in a future post.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post and click the “Sugar Beets” category to see all of my sugar beet posts.

Also, you can watch for Thursday’s post, a photograph of a circa 1915 auto parade on Pine Street, one of my favorite streets in Fort Collins and one that isn’t often seen in old photographs.


Sugar Beet Demonstration Trains

In the first decades of the 20th century, sugar beets were the primary business of Northern Colorado. Farmers planted beets, counting on migrant workers to help with the seasonal work. Processing plants were built in Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and in many other area towns, to process the beets into sugar and molasses. The railroads linked the process together, moving the raw vegetables to the processing plants and the finished products to the end users.

Anything that made the process more efficient helped everyone, from the farmers to the sugar beet plants to the railroads. Sugar beet demonstration trains were an early way improve sugar beet yields through the sharing of best practices.

Below are some images of the demonstration trains that visited Northern Colorado’s “sugar bowl” between 1925 and 1927.

Colorado & Southern Sugar Beet Demonstration Train, 1927

The demonstration trains ran through the sugar beet areas of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Montana. The trains included display cars and an auditorium car that could be used for meetings when the weather was bad and for dinners that the railroads hosted for farmers and their wives.

A Presentation at a Beet Train Stop, 1927

There were instructional presentations at each stop made by a combination of experts from the Colorado Agricultural College, the agricultural departments of the railroad, and the experts from the Great Western Sugar Company. The trains even carried German and Spanish translators.

According to the local newspapers, the crowds were “several hundred strong, with fully 90 percent of the farmers . . . visiting the train.”

The 1925 Demonstration Train Slogan

Each year the train used a slogan. In 1925 and 1926, the slogan was “Another Ton Per Acre.” The experts calculated that one extra ton per acre in Colorado would result “in upwards of $1,000,000 annually added to payments to beet farmers.”

The 1927 slogan was changed to “A Record Yield for Every Field,” and emphasized getting the yield up on each farmer’s lower producing fields.

Inside a Display Car, 1926

The display cars were the heart of the train. One article said, “Live and growing sugar beet plants from the seedling stage through the harvest period are displayed to illustrate how best to obtain increased yields per acre.” The 1925 and 1926 displays stressed the basics – early irrigation, plant spacing, and thinning. According to the local papers, the efforts were successful with increased tons per acre of 26 percent in 1925 and 20 percent in 1926.

The 1927 train focused on better use of labor, stressing recruitment, training, and supervision of beet workers. Worker housing was a major element, the 1927 speakers saying that “no phase of the beet labor problems has been more neglected than this.” They suggested better housing, performance contracts based on beet yields, and better supervision of the workers to increase a farmer’s tons per acre.

Students (?) Visiting a Display Car, 1926

Many people visited the trains beyond the sugar beet farmers. The sugar beet industry touched many people in the local towns, from merchants to pool halls to churches and schools. Local high schools sent their students to visit the trains. These three young ladies may be part of a class visit.

Sugar beets industrialized many of the small towns in Northern Colorado. In future posts, I’ll show images of sugar beet dumps (which transferred the raw beets from wagon to train) and the sugar beet processing plants that were critical to the sugar beet industry.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post and click the “Sugar Beet” category to see all of my sugar beet posts.