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The Great Western Sugar Company, founded in the early 20th century by Charles Boettcher and partners, was a pioneer in bringing the sugar beet industry to northeastern Colorado. From the first sugar mill built in Loveland, Colorado, in 1901, the company soon expanded, and built or acquired several additional facilities in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

In 1967, Great Western was sold to Colorado businessman Billy White, who in 1974 sold controlling interest in the company to the Hunt Brothers organization. Several years of economic struggles followed, and in 1985 the company, with its six sugar processing plants and five storage facilities over a four-state area, was purchased by British sugar firm Tate & Lyle, and the company name was changed to Western Sugar Company.

In the late 1990s Tate & Lyle, in response to the volatile sugar market in the United States, began seeking a buyer for its sugar holdings in the U.S.

In December 2002, over 1,000 sugar beet growers in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana united to form The Western Sugar Cooperative, believing that the future of the sugar beet industry in this area would be well-served by grower ownership of the company. On April 30, 2002, the Cooperative finalized the purchase of Western Sugar from Tate & Lyle.

Since the purchase, the Cooperative has entered into a long-term lease agreement with American Crystal Sugar Company for the operation of the Torrington, Wyoming, beet processing plant, further solidifying the beet-growing and beet-processing operations in the four-state area under the direction of The Western Sugar Cooperative.

With company headquarters in Denver, Colorado, Western Sugar currently operates sugar-processing plants at Scottsbluff, Nebraska; Lovell and Torrington, Wyoming; Billings, Montana; and Fort Morgan, Colorado. Storage facilities are located at Greeley, Rocky Ford, Sterling and Longmont, Colorado; and at Gering and Mitchell, Nebraska.

Minatare, NE Minatare, Nebraska, was the site of a factory built by The Great Western Sugar Company in 1925, that remained in operation until 1948.
Bayard Factory Early evaporators in the Bayard factory, where excess water was removed from "thin juice" in the sugar-making process.
Gering Facility Shown here are workers near the factory’s boiler in early days of the Gering facility, erected in 1916, the first to be built by Great Western itself.
Bayard, NE The Bayard, Nebraska, factory was the second built by Great Western, and began operations in 1917.
Scottsbluff, NE A view of the Scottsbluff, Nebraska, factory, in pre-Western Sugar Company days.
Scottsbluff, NE The Scottsbluff, Nebraska, factory was built by the Scottsbluff Sugar Company in 1910, and taken over the same year by Great Western.
The Great Western Railway The Great Western Railway was organized in 1901 to serve the beet sugar industry and towns in northern Colorado. While its main purpose has been to transport beets, sugar, molasses, coal and lime rock, it also operated for passenger service from 1917 - 1926.
Transporting Sugar Beets Today, sugar beets are transported to processing plants in trucks with trailers designed specifically for that purpose, but in years past they came by horse and wagon.
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