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Monday, June 16, 2014

More Images of Old Sugar Land

I've posted several of these photos before, but I wanted to post them again because I got a couple of inquiries about structures built with hand-made bricks.  Some of you know that slaves and convicts made bricks from local clay.  In fact, the Texas Prison System operated a brick-making plant at one of the Jester Units well into the 1950s.  (I'm not exactly certain when they shut it down.)

We'll start with some photos from 1957, when Imperial demolished part of the Cunningham sugar mill, or sugar house as it was sometimes called.  They didn't take down all of the building because I have later photos showing the remaining section.  

Note the smoke stacks because they are still standing and will help orient where the old buildings stood.

These next photos give a closer view, showing the part they are taking down and the part (behind) that they're leaving.  Once again, note the stacks in the second photo.

The demolition crew found old sugar cane stalks under the floor of the building.  They must have lain there since 1928, when the last cane was milled on the site.  T. C. Rozelle took this photo of the cane and made an annotation on the back saying it was 'petrified.'

The next two photos were taken on September 12, 1961.  They show damage to the remaining part of the mill building after Hurricane Carla. 

Here are two photos of the building from 1969, when the remaining section was demolished.

I now want to show the point of all this.  We have photos of the waste water sewers ('flumes') that lay underneath the building.  They channeled effluent from the old mill into Oyster Creek.  (This was long before the Environmental Protection Act was passed.)  You can see these channels were constructed with hand-made bricks.

These bricks were made by leased convict labor, probably in the early 1890s, or maybe the late 1880s, when the mill was built.  We think these and similar structures are still underground.  At some point, new construction will uncover most of these artifacts. 

Similar brick structures may be buried where the Imperial Mill sat on the banks of Oyster Creek near Constellation Park.  We hope to uncover those artifacts, too.