Mormon Sugar Beet Factory Site - 524
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 42° 25.430 W 123° 19.213
10T E 473657 N 4696885
A D.U.P. marker located in front of a grange hall.
Waymark Code: WMX843
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 12/10/2017
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member PeanutsParents
Views: 7

Located in front of the Fruitdale Grange Hall is a D.U.P. marker highlighting the site of a former sugar beet factory. The marker reads:

Mormon Sugar Beet Factory Site

On this site in 1916, the Oregon Utah Sugar Company erected a large beet factory. C.W. Nibley, director of the company and presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons/L.D.S.), oversaw the project. Nibley's sons, Alex, Merrill, and D. J.O., and other Mormons knowledgeable in related areas were sent to secure contracts, educate the local residents about beet farming, supervise construction of the plant, and run the operation once the factory was completed.

The sugar factory, though short lived, brought considerable attention and growth to the Rogue Valley. It provided employment for more than 150 people in its construction and operation. Over 700,000 bricks were supplied by a local brick maker, C.E. Woolfolk. Area ranches fattened their cattle on beet pulp, and nearby lime quarry was kept busy. On October 24, 1916, and open house and gala celebration, known as "Sugar Day," marked the first day of its operation. The event was covered by Pathe News, the Grants Pass Daily Courier, and other regional newspapers. Early in 1917, a branch of the L.D.S. Church, with 38 members, was organized in Grants Pass by Melvin J. Ballard. James Hood was branch president, and Jamima Hood served as Relief Society president.

At least 5,000 acres of land with sufficient irrigation were needed to make the venture a success. Because the full amount of land and water could not be secured, the project was unable to survive its second year. The entire operation was dismantled and moved to Toppenish, Washington. By the end of 1918, all that remained of the Mormon Sugar Beet Factory was a pile of broken bricks and its huge cement foundations, part of which still exists under the asphalt parking lot of the Fruitdale Grange. The Grange acquired a portion of the factory property in May of 1930 and joined with the Josephine Company-Grants Pass Camp of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in preserving this historical site.

1999                                           No. 524                           Josephine Company-Grants Pass Camp

I found it pretty neat that there are concrete foundations to the former factory located under the asphalt parking lot. I'm also pretty certain the bricks used in the monument are the same bricks that were once part of the sugar beet factory. There was an online article recently that mentioned that much of the former factory machinery was sold to a company in Uruguay in the 1930s, which contradicts what the marker reads.

Marker Name: Mormon Sugar Beet Factory Site

Marker Number: 524

Marker Text:
Read marker text above.

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