Sweet Abandoned Ruins of White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Plant in Loveland, Colorado

The crumbling remains of abandoned sugar factories languish throughout Northeastern Colorado, bleak reminders of the rise and fall of the beet sugar industry.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

I was still riding high from exploring the Titan I ICBM 2B missile silo launch complex when I drove through Denver. I stopped to grab a quick lunch and then made my way to Loveland to check out the ruins of the Amalgamated Sugar Company White Satin Plant, one of Colorado's many abandoned sugar mills.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Northeastern Colorado was once the site of the thriving beet sugar industry. Tariffs enacted in the early 1900s bolstered the beet sugar companies by artificially raising the prices of imported cane sugar. The Sugar Act of 1948 further aided beet sugar manufacturers by setting quotas for sugar imports and providing subsidies to domestic producers.

After decades of growth, Colorado's beet sugar industry began a sharp decline in the mid-1970s due to a concatenation of circumstances. In late 1974 congress allowed the Sugar Act to expire, removing the government-sponsored advantage that had so benefited the beet sugar producers.

The late 1970s was also a time when the use of sugar in the United States dropped dramatically due to increased use of alternatives such as fructose and artificial sweeteners. The resulting surplus in sugar inventories and competition from cane sugar producers led to falling prices that ate away at profitability. To compensate, many plants were closed in the latter half of the 1900s.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

One of the roads alongside the abandoned sugar mill was under construction, and I knew it would be difficult to pass unseen through the site.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

I decided I would walk through the grounds as though I had a reason to be there, and if anyone asked me to leave, I would.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

I was dying to explore the abandoned buildings, but every entry point was spray-painted with "No Trespassing" in big bold letters and I'd seen a pickup truck drive through the lot and park next to one of the buildings, so I knew there was a good chance I'd be seen.

I wandered the grounds and settled for photos of the exteriors of the crumbling buildings. One structure was entirely gutted, so I walked through it.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

On the other side was a train track. Large sections of concrete marked stalls from which sugar was loaded onto freight trains.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado
The heap of snow inside the train car almost resembles sugar

A rusting metal bridge contained a conveyor belt for moving beets from the storage building to processing facility.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Large sections of the outer wall of one of the structures had fallen away, exposing the interior.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Several smaller abandoned buildings also occupied the grounds.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

The smallest contained a little office.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Another appeared to have once functioned as a workshop.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

A series of railroad tracks crossed the property, where trains hauled the refined sugar out of the facility for distribution.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

How does beet sugar differ from cane sugar, and which is better?

Both cane and beet sugar are 99.95% sucrose, making them nearly identical. The .05% difference consists of traces of minerals and proteins.

According to chsugars.com,
Cane sugar contains trace minerals that are different from those in beet sugar, and it’s these minerals that many experts say make cane sugar preferable to use. As professional bakers have long noticed, cane sugar has a low melting—point, absorbs fewer extraneous and undesirable odors, blends easily and is less likely to foam up. And that can be very important when you’re caramelizing a syrup, making a delicate glaze, baking a delicious meringue, or simmering your family’s favorite jam recipe.
Beets grow in more diverse climates and can be farmed in 12 states, while only 4 states have climates capable of supporting sugar cane.

Harvesting methods differ too. Cane fields are torched to get rid of the leaves and then the stalks are chopped down, while sugar beets are uprooted. Due to the different harvesting methods, beets must be replanted every year; cane regrows on its own.

Beet sugar is typically cheaper to produce because its refining process is less complex than that of cane sugar.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

In recent years the beet sugar industry has seen a dramatic shift toward using genetically modified crops. In 2008 Monsanto introduced "Roundup Ready" GMO sugar beets, which are genetically engineered to withstand exposure to glyphosate herbicide. Most cane sugar is not GMO, but since 2010, 95% of sugar beets grown in the US are Monsanto's GMO strain.

Monsanto has so cornered the seed market that non-GMO beets are nearly impossible to come by. In 2010 a federal judge declared Roundup Ready sugar beets illegal because Monsanto had not performed the necessary environmental impact studies. But non-GMO beets had already become so rare that the USDA told farmers to ignore the ruling in order to avoid a probable 20% decrease in crop yields.

Nowadays, 55% of sugar sold in the US is beet sugar. If a package isn't specifically labeled as cane sugar, it probably contains beet sugar, which means it is almost certainly GMO.

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

Abandoned buildings of the White Satin Amalgamated Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado

After my relatively short time in Loveland's abandoned sugar mill, I got back on the road and headed west toward Utah, where I would spend the night in the incredible ghost town of Cisco, which quickly became one of my favorites.

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22 comments :

  1. Very interesting!
    I hate the fact that GMO's are taking over everything.
    Though Monsanto tries to "reassure" that it is safe, their history is riddled (mired?) in terrible chemicals that were also deemed "safe". Ha.
    And frankly, I don't know how folks get past the fact that you are DRENCHING a plant in a chemical that is a deadly poison. Eat that? I think not. Thankfully, more and more people are voting with their dollars---the only way to defeat this.
    Enough %itching.
    Have a great week, kiddo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't agree more, Sue. Monsanto has repeatedly demonstrated its lack of regard for consumers, farmers, and the environment. Even if GMOs are completely safe to eat (which I'm not convinced they are), the lack of genetic diversity is a huge problem. It eliminates natural selection, leaving the entire population of crops vulnerable to a pest or blight that finds a weakness to exploit.

      It turns my stomach to think of all the pesticides and herbicides that have likely been absorbed into the produce we consume.

      Saturating fields with herbicides may kill most of the weeds in the short-term, but glyphosate-resistant "super-weeds" are already emerging, just as overuse of antibiotics brings about drug-resistant infections.

      Voting with our dollars is the only way to force change. I know too many people who speak out against the likes of Monsanto, yet continue to support their business by buying their products.

      Have a great weekend too, Sue!

      Delete
    2. If it's pesticides that you're worried about, you should be all for GMO crops and against those labeled organic. No, I'm not joking. Roundup isn't harmful to humans and is very effective, so they don't need to use as much of it. Organic crops are limited to some less effective types of pesticides and so they use way, way more. If you buy organic please wash them extremely well. Meanwhile, even if you are someone that thinks that GMO crops are somehow inherently dangerous (they're not) keep in mind that the sugar itself can't be said to be GMO or contain any GMO product - there's simply no genetic material left in the sugar.

      Getting off my soapbox... this is a great blog and I'm so glad you have taken the time to post these wonderful pictures and descriptions. I've been working my way through all day and having a lovely time.

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    3. Thank you so much, Steven! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.

      As for Roundup, there seems to be a lot of conflicting information about whether or not its ingredients pose a health hazard to humans. This has been the case with many substances (tobacco, thalidomide, asbestos, etc) that have later been proven dangerous. I'm not saying that Roundup is definitely hazardous, but I'm not ruling it out. The effects of GMOs on genetic diversity is another major concern. I'm not saying Roundup and GMOs are 100% bad, but there are reasons to be concerned about their safety and effect on the ecological balance.

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  2. "Both cane and beet sugar are 99.95% sucralose"

    Slight typo, they are sucrose. Sucralose is Splenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for pointing that out. I've corrected it.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the awesome posts! I grew up in Arizona and currently live in Colorado, so its been fun finding out about interesting places in states that I thought I knew well. Safe travels!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right on! Thanks for checking them out! Arizona and Colorado have been some of my favorite states to explore. So many amazing places there.

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  4. Did you know that the amalgamated sugar factory is now back up and running? It is not abandoned anymore.

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    Replies
    1. I had no idea. Did they build new structures, or did they renovate the existing ones?

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  5. Oh, wow! I randomly came to this page after reading your adventures in Model, CO. I worked on the other side of Madison Ave after I graduated high school. I used to cut through the field of this sugar plant to pick up lunch. Thank you for the bringing back those memories!

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    Replies
    1. Glad I could bring back some memories!

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  6. I use to work for amalgamated sugar. the facilities with their name on them in colorado were originally great western facories. when great wetern closed them, amalgamated sugar purchased the silos and warehouses. in most case they did/ do not own the "plant" portion of the property. they have plants in idaho and probably still do ues thee silos and warehouse at this site. Im not even sure who owned the property where most of your pictures were taken, but i was my understanding that that they would not have been very excited for you to be there. lol

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks for the information. I was careful to stay out in the open so they could see that I wasn't there to cause trouble and could easily kick me out if they wanted to. Neat place. I would have loved to see the inside of those structures.

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  7. I believe there were a lot of rumors as to what the Loveland sugar property was.I believe the Police raided the place looking for drug activity, which set off a hostile reaction from the owners, who just wanted to be left alone.

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    Replies
    1. Did that happen after the sugar mill closed and had been sitting vacant for a while?

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  8. Madison Ave., the street next to plant had giant tank (bin) of molasses collapse in the 90's and flooded the area with the brown, gooey stuff.

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    Replies
    1. That must have been crazy to witness!

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  9. I think it was in the winter.

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  10. I am filming a movie that requires some empty industrial looking scenery. Has this place been demolished? Are there still parts of the old factory that are not renovated? How sketchy would it be to check it out?

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure about the current state of the property, but I heard it might be in the midst of renovations.

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