What could be more American than an agricultural cooperative dedicated to farming sugar beets? In 1903, Charles Boettcher founded just that and it was called the Great Western Sugar company. Based in Colorado it would become one the biggest businesses in the state in its day and it continued to thrive up until the late 1970s when Tate & Lyle purchased the company. So why should this great American success story send chills down your spine?
Check out this drone footage from one of the closed plants that were once used by the Great Western Sugar Company:
The plant sits just outside of Denver, Colorado and for years it’s been the subject of intense scrutiny from the outside world. Completely abandoned, the huge site would seem ideal for urban reclamation or construction of more modern facilities but instead, it lays empty and no-one is allowed to set foot within its walls.
It’s like the zombie apocalypse passed through from the Walking Dead. Everything is still in the same place as it was the day the doors closed and the buildings, plant, and even vehicles lay discarded and untouched. So what’s the reason behind this 110,000 square foot facility’s collapse into decay?
Well back in the early 1970s, the factory was dedicated to converting those lovely sugar beets of the Great Western Sugar Company into pure refined white sugar as it had done for decades. More than 7,000 farms were delivering their crops to the plant as it produced incredible amounts of sugar for the nation’s sweet tooths. Then in 1970 the economy collapsed and the plant was forced into closure.
For a while photographers and even videographers would come to visit this testament, to the fickle fates that control the destiny of business in America, but soon they would be denied entry forever more. And that’s because what lays within the walls of this plant is a serious threat to human health.
Back in 1903 when the plant was constructed nobody had any idea that asbestos would one day turn out to be a cancer causing nightmare. The plant, according to local health authorities, is riddled with the stuff and that means it’s a very, very bad idea to spend any time inside it at all. They also say it’s full of toxic chemicals which could seriously ruin your day and possibly your life.
If you want to go inside today – you’d need permission from the company because as it’s private property; you’d be trespassing if you couldn’t get that permission and a host of protective equipment. You need a respirator and protective clothing to avoid sucking in lungfuls of asbestos that lead to the horrific condition of asbestosis.
You’d also need to keep a very careful eye out for the fall traps of open, uncovered pits and the possibility of walls and ceilings collapsing at any given moment.
The Great Western Sugar Company’s abandoned facility is now best visited by drone and it gives the viewer the perfect insight into what a post-apocalyptic world might feel like.