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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Old Sugar Land: Images & Newspaper Articles

I found this interior photo recently of the old Acid Plant, located roughly where the water tower now stands near the Main Street bridge.  I found it in a scrapbook at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.  I'm virtually certain it appeared in the September 8, 1921 edition of The Texas Farm and Industrial News, a weekly newspaper published in Sugar Land.

I'm not sure what to make of the photo's caption.  It says the Sugar Land Manufacturing Company (a subsidiary of Sugarland Industries) made battery acid in three plants.  I know of just this one plant, and I also know they made acids for other uses.

Here's an exterior photo of the plant.

The same issue of the weekly paper included these photos of the Sealy Mattress Plant just a few yards away at the southwest corner of Main and Sugar Land (now Kempner) Streets.

The plant closed just a few years later.  Several enterprises set up operations there, but in 1936 Marshall Canning Company took it over and canned local vegetable crops in that location for 20 years.  In 1956 Sugarland Industries built them a new, much larger complex where the old Acid Plant stood.  They operated in that location into the early 1970s, I think.  So, this story has come 'full circle' in a sense.

I have one more article from The Texas Farm and Industrial News of 1921.  Sugar Land was then in the midst of widespread redevelopment, which drew interest from afar.  Kempner and Eldridge were happy to showcase their burgeoning enterprise to the outside world, so they invited people like O. W. Crawford to take extended tours of Sugar Land.

You'll notice Crawford's nickname was 'Deepwater,' which I take to mean he was highly involved in developing the Houston Ship Channel in 1915.  You'll see he was in Sugar Land due to his involvement with a redevelopment project in Schriever, Louisiana.  This article doesn't say it was a sugar growing, milling, and refining project, but I assume it was.   You'll also note that as a state commissioner Crawford was interested in our town's extensive land reclamation project, which was privately funded with Kempner and Eldridge money and proved very effective in flood abatement and land improvement.  Even in those days Sugar Land was a happenin' place.

One final item relating to Visco, or Nalco as it's now known.  Both clippings come from The Fort Bend Mirror, the larger printed on August 31, 1967 and the shorter around August 1, 1971.  Connie Quinton Nugent (DHS '66) wrote the former on new expansion of Visco's plant, which hasn't changed location since it's inception.  It's simply expanded westward and northward from where it started in 1930.  The latter clipping announced W. H. Kirkpatrick's retirement from the company.  I had no idea he retired in the early '70s.  I thought he continued at least a decade longer.