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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Imperial Mill Burns in 1914

While doing some research in old newspapers I found a few contemporaneous articles about the Imperial Mill, which burned 100 years ago last January.  I've posted article in the past about the sugar mill that sat on the bank of Oyster Creek about a mile west of the Imperial refinery.  It was on the south bank just across from the right field wall in Constellation Field.   The sugar mill appears in the distance and has a tall smoke stack on it.
It was built in 1883 on what was then Ellis Plantation property.  Eventually, Kempner & Eldridge sold the Ellis Plantation (including this acreage) to the State of Texas, which turned it into the prison farm.  However, Kempner & Eldridge retained ownership of the sugar mill.  At the time of the fire, Kempner & Eldridge were in a dispute with the State about the latter's fulfillment of the sales contract.  That's why there was some controversy about the fire.

The railroad tracks in the photo are not the tracks paralleling Highway 90A.  These tracks were taken up sometime in the 1930s.  The camera is facing eastward and positioned on land that is now the Municipal Airport.  

I've zoomed the left-hand and right-hand margins of the photo, so you can see some details.  The right-hand margin shows what might be the old Ellis Plantation home that served as W. T. Eldridge, Sr.'s home until 1928.  It sat next to the red-brick Char House and was demolished in 1963.  Click here to see a photoClick here to read an article about its demolition.

Left margin of Imperial Mill photo.

Right margin of Imperial Mill photo.

The following newspaper article comes from The Portal to Texas History Web site at the University of North Texas.  I've clipped the image to make it easier to find and read, but I've also included a link in case you want to see the complete page.  Click here to view the whole page.  Notice that they got the headline wrong.  The refinery didn't burn; it was the sugar mill.

The Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot, January 30, 1914.