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Oregon Century: Sugar Factory

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- In 1915, the Oregon Utah Sugar Company began advertising for potential sugar beet farmers to plant at least 5,000 acres of the sweet beet. In return, organizers promised that a

Posted: May 12, 2016 9:05 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2017 1:38 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- In 1915, the Oregon Utah Sugar Company began advertising for potential sugar beet farmers to plant at least 5,000 acres of the sweet beet.

In return, organizers promised that a huge plant would be built to process the sugar beets.

Competition was hot between Grants Pass and Medford, but the Climate City won. In 1916, work began on a huge processing plant.

The four-story building required over 700,000 bricks and cost $625,000 to build.

In October of 1916, the harvest began. But already, there were signs of trouble. Not only was the war brewing, but the company became the Utah Idaho Sugar Company and there was not enough irrigation available. Many growers ran short of water.

The next year was not much better and the decision was made to pack up the plant, bricks, boilers and all, and was moved to Washington.

Although there's no signs left of the factory, it sparked the development of more irrigation in southern Oregon.

Within five years, Savage Rapids Dam was built, creating plenty of water. But it was too late and one of the most ambitious early developments became just another footnote in Josephine County history.

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