In the 1900’s, the Salt River Valley was host to many growing agricultural areas that were connected by canals and the railroad. Glendale, Arizona was one of these areas. According to Kathleen Noon in the article Industry Came to Glendale, under the guidance of W.J. Murphy and his company, the Arizona Improvement Company, Murphy helped to develop the Glendale area with water, rail, and road services, luring different enterprises to the town.
At this time, sugar beets were becoming a major industry, with many states building factories that turned the beets into sugar. After much research was done on the growing of sugar beets, and an unfortunate amount of financial difficulty, Murphy secured financing with Teodor Hapke, and the ground was broke for the Glendale Sugar Beet Factory in 1905.
Hapke secured agreements with the Sante Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads for shipping materials. It was also determined that the soil around the factory’s location could produce the bricks to build it. After purchasing two large kilns, the bricks were produced on site, at the rate of 25,000 bricks per day. In 1906, the Arizona Republic reported the extensiveness of the completed structure, stating it was five stories high at its highest point, and had a boiler house, a lime kiln house, a repair shop, and a smoke stack. A sugar warehouse, beet sheds, and an office building were also underway. Wells were dug for the water that was needed to run the plant, and in August of 1906, the plant opened.
The plant was in operation up until 1913. After changing hands several times, and experiencing financial issues, poor quality and quantity of beet crops, and labor issues, the plant closed. In its day, it had produced well over 20,000,000 pounds of sugar, and was a significant force in the development of Glendale as a town. It stands today, mostly empty. In 1979 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. For a more extensive story on this landmark, read Industry Came to Glendale.
Sugar Beet Factory- South View
The Glendale Sugar Beet Factory was an icon of hope in its day, boasting three floors in most of the building, and five floors at its highest point. It has been reported that the estimated cost to build was over $1,000,000. It employed at least 200 workers.
Sugar Beet Factory – East Side
The factory required 800 tons of beets per day, which needed to be harvested during Arizona’s hottest months. Often, beet spoilage, lack of water, and heat exhaustion of animals were reported as some of the barriers to harvesting the beets. A shortage of crops occurred often.
Sugar Beet Factory – North View
The factory has been a place for many businesses since its closure in 1913. This includes a bottling company, a soy sauce factory, a citrus factory, and various small enterprises that have leased part of the building. Most of it is now vacant.
Sugar Beet Factory – S.E. Side
A brewery has been projected to occupy the space in the near future. But for now, its vacant. At the time of this photo, an eerie clanking could be heard inside the building. Was it just a loose fixture or a sound from the past?