Sugar Beets

Sugar Beets (HMVUN)

Location: Fort Morgan, CO 80701 Morgan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 16.044', W 103° 48.076'

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Sugar beets didn't become Colorado's first major cash crop by accident. Scientists, businessmen, and newspapers spent thirty years singing the praises of this starchy root, which as early as the 1860s was found to be perfectly suited to Colorado's climate and soils. Among their other virtues, beets provided a double harvest - the root yielded sugar, while the rest of the plant was marketable as livestock feed. It took decades for local planters to embrace this unfamiliar crop, but when they finally did so around 1900 the prairie economy took off. By 1920 the value of Colorado's beet harvest had multiplied twentyfold, and Colorado had become the nation's top sugar producing slate, accounting for a third of U.S. output.

Great Western Sugar Company
For more than half a century, the Great Western Sugar Company helped drive the economy of Colorado's eastern prairies. The conglomerate built fifteen processing plants along the South Platte and Arkansas Rivers between 1901 and 1910, creating economic opportunity for local farmers laborers, packers, shippers, and sundry other agents. Towns competed vigorously to attract Great Western mills, and no wonder: After Fort Morgan's factory opened in 1906, the city's land values soared from $40 to $250 per acre. Great Western prospered into the 1970s, but corporate neglect caused a steep decline; one by one its plants shut down. The Fort Morgan site closed in 1985 but reopened in 1986 under new ownership, and a new name - Western Sugar. Today it and a Greeley mill are all that remain of Great Western's sugar kingdom in Colorado.

Series This marker is part of the Colorado: History Colorado series
Marker Number224
Year Placed1999
Placed ByColorado Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 1:28am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13T E 601924 N 4458125
Decimal Degrees40.26740000, -103.80126667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 16.044', W 103° 48.076'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 16' 2.64" N, 103° 48' 4.56" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)970, 303
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 755-799 Curry St, Fort Morgan CO 80701, US
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