• Betty wolf

    I have been researching Holly Sugar Corp. in Colorado Springs. I have original drawings from an artist that drew for their packaging. I can send you photo of the name,
    Would like history of the artist. Maybe you can help.
    Love your photos!!! Love the history !!!!
    I received these from a friend while living in the Springs, 1975-1979… He was an accountant that had a client who worked at Holly Sugar that gave him the prints in turn he gave to me,

    May 24, 2016
    • Betty: Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments on the history of Holly Sugar Corp. Unfortunately, I have no information that would be helpful to you regarding the artist who drew their packaging. I’m just a photographer who loves to shoot old abandoned structures, not an area historian with any connections regarding information that detailed. Glad to hear you like the photographs. Best wishes.

      June 09, 2016
  • Thanks for sharing these great artistic photos of the old factory remains. My wife’s family worked and lived in the old town. Her grandmother ran the old general store and post office. One of her aunts was ultimately the manager of Union Sugar and her mother was in the accounting department. One of her best friends was the office secretary.
    While many of the records show that Union Sugar closed down the town in 1950 many people stayed in the old town. My wife lived there until 1967.

    Thanks again and keep those post coming.

    August 10, 2015
    • Thanks so much for sharing your family’s history at Union Sugar, Brent. Much appreciated. I love the human elements behind these abandoned places. That is why I enjoy photographing them. I also have many interior shots and will do another post including those images.

      August 14, 2015
  • Eleanor

    As an amateur photographer and the family genealogist, I very much appreciate these images. My great uncle was a press foreman there in 1918 according to his WW I draft registration. He left La. as a young man looking for gold in Alaska. The family never heard from him and thought him dead. Your images pop and bring life to that old plant. A much nicer way to think of our William.

    January 18, 2013
    • I very much appreciate your stopping by and leaving comments about the wonderful old sugar mill. I find it very beautiful and alluring, despite being in a state of decay. The history is so rich and makes me think about all of the workers, their lives, and what became of them. I will be doing a second post in the future with images from the inside of the factory and surrounding structures. Some are already posted on my Gallery page. Thank you again.

      January 24, 2013
  • It was really awesome when my middle daughter texted me and told me to check out this website. My husband and I both worked at Holly Sugar, previously known as Union Sugar. I started out in the office working under Mr. Winters in the early 80s if my memory is correct, and my husband started shortly after working in the factory. When we had just one car, he would come home from one shift and I would go into work smelling as though I had been inside the factory. The sugar beet has a very distinctive smell and likes to stick to your clothes. I later left there and further down the line my husband moved on to the lab. You couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people, from the farmers that came into the office to the factory workers.

    My brother-in-law also went to work out there. When it came time to close the factory, they gave many of the workers the choice of staying with the company and relocating, or moving on with their lives. My husband chose to stay with the company, so we were transferred to Colorado Springs where he went to work in an office. It was kind of strange to see him back in a suit and working 8 to 5, but he also had to do some traveling to the different Holly Sugar locations. Three years after moving here to Colorado Springs, my husband was diagnosed with cancer – what an outpouring of friendship and support.

    The fellas from the different Holly Sugar locations would stop in at the hospital when traveling through, bringing meals and giving donations to help with some of the medical bills. They would even set up conference calls so he could be a part of the meetings from the hospital until he would get too tired and have to say goodbye. Then they closed this office and those that were to stay on moved to Holly Sugar in Sugarland, Texas. But we could not make this move, as he was not going to get well. They then suggested trying to set up an office in our home for him where he would be able to communicate from there to Texas, but we were not able to do that either. We lost that battle within 6 months. I will always be thankful for the companionship they not only showed my husband, but to our family. Holly Sugar was truly one big family.

    November 07, 2012
    • Sharon, I deeply appreciate your stopping by and viewing my blog post and images of the Holly Sugar Mill. My condolences on the loss of your husband. What an inspirational story!

      Thank you for filling in so much history and missing information. That is very helpful to everyone. I also have many photographs of the inside of the factory and other buildings. They are included on my main Gallery page. Thank you again for sharing your special story.

      November 11, 2012
  • Albert Perez

    Just following up with a correction of my earlier-submitted comment. The base of the old factory was @ 400,000 square ft, not 40,000. Your shots are great!

    August 16, 2012
    • Thanks so much for adding the correction. I am a history buff and it is hard to find information on this great old sugar mill.

      August 24, 2012
  • Albert Perez

    Your photos are both amazing and heartbreaking for me. I worked at that plant, for Holly Sugar, in 91 & 92. I was 19 & 20 yrs old. Driving toward the plant at night,from Santa Maria, you could see the lights from the first break of flat open fields on Betteravia Rd…about 8 miles away. As you drew closer, you could smell the beets from 4 miles away. I’d use my milage meter figure this out. The “Tower Of Babbel” was used to hold and heat lime rock, which we used to fuel the operation. Our veteran supervisor, an old Union Sugar worker, Sonny Langhorn also used that tower to check on the yard operations from an obvious vantage point. Being a young man with the job title of YARD UTILITY, Ol’ Sonny caught me once or twice being idle out in the yard. Hehe, nobody ever wanted to look up at that tower and find Sonny watching them goof around. The building that the tower bridged to was the actual production factory that stands no more. A true tail telling structure of early American Industry, this building was a multi-level factory. it was roughly 8 to 10 stories high. The base was @ 40,000 square feet. The outer was made entirely of red brick, complete with red-brick arched industrial window-openings that could be used as doorways as well…depending on what bridged into the building, like Sonny’s tower. The outter walls were 4 feet THICK of this solid red brick. As young as I was, I knew I was working for a place of deep history, and had become part of the long line of Sugar Workers that kept that plant running for a century. Although a good number of workers and I lived in surrounding towns like Santa Maria and Nipomo, most of my coworkers were from the nieghboring town of Guadalupe. These guys were really good to know. They had a culture of there own, influenced by our heritage. They took care of young new workers like me, and they loved that plant. Generations of workers from Guadalupe had worked there, and you could see it in thier faces. Me, not even being from the area(I am actually from Southern CA & would only go up to the Central Coast for the seasons of work), the guys from Guadalupe showed me the local ropes. Not only on the job, but how a Sugar Woker lived. Where to go eat, where to hang out, and how to catch fish RIGHT FROM THE SHORE at Oso Flaco Beach(near Guadalupe). Yes, this plant definately brought the best of of men. If you think this old plant has interesting character now, imagine what it was like to set foot in the middle of its full operation/production less than 20 yrs ago. I, myself, am lucky enough that to not need to imagine. I just remember. And if you can imagine how interesting the operation must have been, try to imagine how fascinating the generations of workers were that made it run. Few are still around today. I, myself, don’t have to imagine. I just remember. I write this in tribute to the Holly Sugar Workers and Union Sugar Wokers of the old plant in Betteravia. We are part of history guys! And I send my best to the Guadalupe Sugar Worker. They loved that plant more than anyone. It showed on thier faces, and in thier work.

    August 15, 2012
    • Albert: I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful comments and for filling in all the missing history of the old Betteravia sugar mill. So sorry for my delayed response, but I have been out of town on a personal family matter and just returned.

      As a history buff, I have often wondered about the various structures in and around the old factory and silos. Since I am not an engineer, it was puzzling to try and figure out the function of some of these cool-looking structures. Thanks for letting me know in such great detail. This is very helpful information.

      I only wish the owner of the property would allow photographers to document the buildings. We take only photos and leave only footprints unlike vandals.

      The sugar mill has a very strong emotional ambience that is strongly felt, and is one of the reasons I love shooting abandoned structures rich in history. I have always wondered about the employees, what their lives were like and what became of them. Thanks so much again for giving me so much valuable information. It is much appreciated.

      August 24, 2012
  • I love your posts not just because of the terrific photographs, but also because you teach me so much about the subjects of the photographs. I have passed the turnoff for Betteravia countless times and never had any idea that is was anything more than just another street name. Now you have taught me some local history.

    April 13, 2012
    • Barbara, thanks for your kind words. I am glad you enjoy reading the history behind the images. The abandoned sugar mill has a long and rich history. The entire town of Betteravia was built by and for Union Sugar Company. Thanks again for stopping in to chat in our photo studio at Studios on the Park.

      April 14, 2012
  • Ron

    I’ve always liked the hdr look, and yours are spot on, but the clouds are amazing.

    April 11, 2012
    • Thanks, Ron. Much appreciated. I got lucky on the days I visited the old sugar mill and was treated to great clouds. Nothing a photographer hates more than bald skies! And HDR brings out clouds like nothing else.

      April 11, 2012
  • I used to love HDR. Recently though, I try to get rid of my attraction to it as, more and more, I look at my previous pictures (all HDR) with a feeling of disappointment (and even… shame! weird). But I don’t dislike yours, even though they are quite strongly HDRized, it’s nicely done.

    April 10, 2012
    • Yes, there has been much bad press and controversy regarding HDR. However, when images are properly bracketed and processed, the results are like nothing else. In situations with extreme contrast, HDR is a godsend. Sorry you have mixed feelings about your own HDR photography. Nothing to be disappointed about. You are fortunate to reside in Japan, Meow! Like your urbex.

      I actually processed these to look as realistic as possible. HDR brings out incredible details in clouds, and will show clouds you thought weren’t there because your eyes can’t see them all due to bright lighting. But abandoned places look surreal in and of themselves.

      April 11, 2012

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