Sugar Making

Sugar Making (HMVBV)

Location: Port Orange, FL 32129 Volusia County
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Country: United States of America
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N 29° 8.473', W 81° 0.35'

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Original workers drawings courtesy of Florida State Parks.

In the early nineteenth century, many of this region's large agricultural ventures focused on sugar - coarse, brown, and valuable. To get the most from their sugar cane, some planters had their own crushing and cooking operations. At plantations like Dunlawton, African-American slaves cleared the land, raised the crop, then cut and processed the cane each winter - unless freezes or tropical storms had beaten down the plants.

By the 1830s, uncertain sugar prices posed another challenge to Florida planters. Yet despite a range of setbacks - from shipping woes to Seminole raids - Dunlawton did produce some sugar at times. Today, we can still see outlines of the factory and how it worked:

1 - Engine Room: A steam-powered cane crusher extracted the juice.

2 - Boiling Room: The liquid was clarified to remove impurities, heated in trains of kettles (where it gradually thickened), then ladled into wooden cooling troughs.

3 - Purgery: The crystallized sugar was packed in barrels and stored in a drying room for several weeks. This purgery (a low area beyond the modern roof) had vats for catching molasses drippings.

Making sugar was a long, hot, dangerous job - especially near the powerful cane crusher that could snare and smash a tired worker before anyone could shut down the mill. After the sugar had drained, the Marshall's laborers moved heavy barrels to the Halifax River, then shipped them through Mosquito Inlet to Charleston, South Carolina.

[ Image ]
Catalog drawing of a steam-powered cane crusher - built later than Dunlawton's mill but resembling it in many ways. Some of this site's cast-iron equipment is thought to have come from the Cruger-dePeyster plantation after Seminoles sacked the New Smyrna sugar factory in 1835.

Detail from an 1885 James Beggs & Co. catalog, courtesy of Tom Baskett, Jr.

[ Illustrations ]
Placed ByVolusia County and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 6:34pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17R E 499432 N 3223631
Decimal Degrees29.14121667, -81.00583333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 29° 8.473', W 81° 0.35'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds29° 8' 28.38" N, 81° 0' 21.00" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)386
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 852-898 Old Sugar Mill Rd, Port Orange FL 32129, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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