IMPERIAL LAND OF SUGAR
Next time you add sugar to your coffee you might want to consider that the Independence Trail region of Texas has been at the heart of the state’s sugar industry for over one hundred and fifty years. Small sugarcane plantations dominated the region during the pre-Civil War years. The southeast Texas climate and soil supported sugarcane production, a perennial grass high in sucrose, and the availability of slave labor enabled plantation owners to prosper, eventually leading to the formation of large operations like the Sugar Land Plantation and the establishment of sugar mills and refineries. Despite the near collapse of the Texas sugar mill industry after the Civil War, sugar production in the state continued with the aide of industrial-age machinery and labor-efficient manufacturing techniques. Many of the faltering plantations and surrounding mills were consolidated under the Imperial Sugar Company, today a global leader in the sugar industry.
The tale of sugar in Texas is also the story of the Sugar Land community and its details can be found at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation located in (where else!) Sugar Land. In 2003, the closing of the Imperial Sugar refinery, in continual operation since the mid-1800’s, inspired the establishment of the Foundation, charged with archiving and interpreting the refinery’s remarkable collection of artifacts, documents and photographs. The collection tells the entire story of sugar in Texas, from the plantation era to the development of the city of Sugar Land in the modern age. Located on the historic refinery site, the Foundation maintains offices, archives and a museum exhibition space highlighting the significant collection.
Sugar Land Heritage Museum
Tours are available on the 2nd Saturday Monthly.