Monday, February 7, 2011

"Sweetheart" City

I live in Loveland, Colorado (please don't stalk me).  This is not to be confused with Loveland, Nebraska, or Loveland Pass, or Loveland Ski Resort, or Loveland, Ohio.

Growing up in Loveland, CO, Valentine's Day has always been a big deal, and I was surprised as an adult that the holiday is largely overlooked elsewhere.  Loveland puts up more decorations for Valentine's Day than Christmas.

Loveland is named after a fellow named W.A.H. Loveland, a man who went toe to toe with the Union Pacific Railroad, and succeeded in building the Colorado Central Railroad in the late 19th century.

Because "railroad baron" and "love" are totally synonymous.

Much like the modern holiday, it is a marketing ploy. 

The Rotary Club has a project where they decorate lampposts with personalized messages on huge wooden hearts.  The Chamber of Commerce has a contest every year and produces a Loveland Valentine's Day card and cachet, designed by a Loveland Artist.  It's all very local.  We even have a re-mailing program around the 14th of February so you can get the fancy postal stamp.

Every year I think I will remember to have some artwork to submit for the Loveland Valentine contest.  I decide I will draw something without skeletons or hidden monsters.  The winner gets like $500.  I would totally sell out for $500.  But I never do it.  I always forget.

Anyway.  Loveland also calls itself the "Sweetheart City," which actually kind of works... or at least the word "sweet".

For many years, Loveland produced sugar.  Apparently, this entire area use to be famous for the sugar beet sugar, as it was supposed to be some of the best in the world.  The advent of the corn subsidies and a much cheaper way to produce sweetness lead to the decline of this industry, and there are broken down sugar factories all across the region.

I was a little nervous taking pictures of the ruins of the Sugar Factory, so they aren't my best.  The spray painted warning pretty much makes me think someone's going to come out with a shot-gun or maybe release a bunch of giant Rottweilers to get me.

Enter the Amalgamated Sugar Factory.  It was one of the last sugar beet processing plants to shut it's doors on the front range.

These towers are so big that I can see them from Crosier Mountain. 

A couple days after Valentine's Day, 1990, something happened.

A tank ruptured.

Although, honestly, this isn't the destruction of 20 years.  This has been a ruin far longer than the sugar factory has been closed.

It dumped approximately half a million gallons on molasses, which oozed out of a big tank.  It closed down a school and forced evacuations.  Because it was so cold, it congealed quickly, forming a sweet sludge about 2 feet deep in places.

Thankfully, no one was hurt.  But it was one of the few instances where the sleepy little city of Loveland ended up on national news.  For about a minute.

A few years ago, there was a big drug bust here.  The owner's son was accused of having a meth lab.  Loveland SWAT came in with their giant guns and scary military gear.  It was all very dramatic.  Who knew that Loveland had a SWAT team?

The sugar factory still stands.  Most of these factories were built around the turn of the last century, so they contain asbestos.  My understanding has been that they would be relatively expensive to tear down, which is why there are so many still around.

I don't know if the guy was guilty or not.  I don't even remember his name.  I do remember that when the soil samples came back from the lab, it turned out there was no trace of meth.  What they found was... sugar.

Anyway, I decided to take pictures of this crumbling monstrosity and make some pretty holiday cards.  I might not get the official card, but maybe someone can enjoy them.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY from LOVELAND!  We're so into sweetness that even our dirt is sugared!

I wouldn't call Loveland the "Sweatheart City", but I figure something should be done to draw attention to the sweet dirt we have.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY from LOVELAND COLORADO!  NO METH HERE! (At least, none that can be proven in a court of law).

Happy early Valentine's Day, everyone!


NoodlesOnTheFarm said...

It's really refreshing not to read a bitter Valentines post- you've captured Loveland perfectly ... and though I only narrowly missed a falling heart one time in my car- you've made me miss those a bit too.

Brian Wilkes said...

Very well done Laura! I had no idea that there were/are sugar plants there.

Brian W.

Gabzilla said...

Why can't I stalk you?? Pretty please, can I stalk you?

Anonymous said...

I think that last shot and caption should be the winner. Especially given the major pain in the ass the Loveland legal system has given me over the years.

PudMonkey said...

I would totally buy these for Valentine's Day. I remember we got Alec a happy birthday heart one year (since his is on He thought it was pretty awesome. He might have also been like 6 or 7 at the time. :)

MilkyWay said...

Thanks for the history lesson! I never knew that about the asbestos either. We have a sugar factory in Longmont too and I never understood why they haven't torn it down.

Leauxra said...

NoodlesOnTheFarm: That sounds scary! Those hearts are huge!

Brian: Thanks! I don't think I realized how many there were until I started to actually look.

Gabzilla: Don't stalk me. It's... creepy. Also? I know where you live. Or at least what state. Maybe.

Gremlingirl: I will print it out and make it into a purdy card just for you.

PudMonkey: Ok... fine. Maybe what I need to do is put one of these cards up on zazzle or cafepress or something so y'all can BUY a piece of my brilliance. But that sounds like work.

MilkyWay: I don't have any reliable data that asbestos is the reason, but it seemed probable to me considering when these were built and that asbestos is an amazing insulator.