Report - Longmont Sugar Refinery - Boulder, Colorado, USA

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nov 16, 2008
Visited here with Quarantine from (who I met just earlier that night). Cool place, but definitely overshadowed by the Titan I missile silo we explored later that night (

Because of our late start and the magnitude of our main explore (not to mention the distance we had to drive) for the night, we kind of rushed through here, and as a result I didn't get as good photos as I would have liked. Also left my good tripod at home (mistake) and my guide wasn't taking photos so I didn't want to be rude and take forever. There, now all the excuses are out! I could have easily spent a good part of a day here, and most likely will next time I'm in that part of the country.

Towards the end, when we were coming down from the roof, I had the crap scared out of me by a group of bumbling teenagers using their phones to navigate the treacherous interior of the factory. Quarantine attempted to give them some info on the history of the factory, but they seemed more interested in seeing ghosts.. Unlike you folks who would probably appreciate a little history!


The Longmont Sugar Refinery signifies a lost era of economic prosperity in Colorado's history, when sugar beets were the main cash crop in Northern Co.

Early in the 20th Century, several leading citizens of Longmont, recognizing the need for a cash crop to fuel Longmont's growth, concentrated their efforts and founded the Longmont Sugar Co. The factory was built in 1903, designed by Kilby Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio and costing in excess of 1 million dollars, an astronomical sum in the early 1900's.

Soon after it's construction, the factory was purchased by the Great Western Sugar Co. which soon grew to be one of largest corporate empires in Colorado history, operating 15 factories in the region by the 1920's. It has been said that the sugar industry was more profitable than all the mining operations in Colorado combined, but I have yet to find anything which confirms this. In any case, the Longmont beet factory alone was capable of processing over 1200 tons of sugar beets a day, making it one of the largest beet factories in the world.

However, the profits of the Great Western Sugar Company inevitably ebbed, brought on by the introduction of artificial of artificial sweeteners, cheap foreign imports, and the dissolution of government subsidies. The Longmont Sugar Refinery shuttered it's windows in 1978, followed by most of the other grand sugar refineries in Colorado. The Great Western Sugar Company traded hands many times following the initial sale of the company, often mismanaged by foreign investors, slowing diminishing its share in the market. Now only a single sugar beet factory survives in Colorado, a shadow of this formerly glorious industry.

Here is a nice website describing the process of refining sugar beets, including some historical photos

Anyhow, I bet you are sick of hearing about this place, on with the pix

(Sorry about the lack of externals, we were very exposed and didn't want to get busted before the silo explore!)


Longmont Sugar Refinery under construction
Courtesy of Denver Public Library


Wash Basin


Main Production Hall


Ingersoll-Rand Imperial Type 10. Very efficient, simply designed, and desirable air compressors



Cool workbenches. Should have taken more pictures





Detroit-made coal stokers. The factory had a large power house, but we ran through very quickly, right before we left. Didn't take many pictures



This orange light looked disgusting in most of the photos. I liked it here


Between the factory and the powerhouse


Fake PanX format Panoramic

More on my Flickr
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