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What This Drone Footage Captured At This Abandoned Factory Near Denver Is Truly Grim

If you’re driving into Longmont from the east, you can’t help but be mystified by the massive dilapidated, formerly prosperous 110,000-square-foot facility that once a reigning sugar-beet processing plant for the Great Western Sugar Company. In 1903, the factory began operations, magically transforming sugar beets into pure white sugar crystals. At its height, the massive plant was processing beets from over 7,000 farms in three states, but by 1977 the agricultural economy had shifted, and the once thriving factory closed its doors forever.

Since that time amateur and professional photographers and filmmakers have explored the expansive grounds, hoping for a timeless capture of industrial decay. Many have indeed achieved their goal, and in fact, we recently highlighted the hauntingly beautiful building in our piece on Abandoned Places Near Denver. Photographer Mark Ivins also created a lovely collection of images of the Great Western Sugar Company entitled “Abandoned,” which exhibited at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center in 2012. However, what these moving images don’t tell you, is that the factory is actually a dangerously noxious ticking time bomb.

Boulder County Public Health has banned visitors from visiting the site due to asbestos, unstable structures, and other toxic conditions (Yikes!), not to mention that it’s actually private property so you’d be trespassing and could be arrested. A representative for the county health department warned that any visitors “should have permission, a respirator, protective clothing, and a sharp eye — even if you avoid breathing in asbestos (fibers that have been linked to cancer and lung scarring), there’s still shaky walls and open pits to watch out for.” I think I’ll stay home, thanks.

I love the alluring simplistic nature of this drone footage and the eerily perfect musical score that accompanies it. Videographer Michael Deller manages to find a grim sort of beauty in the inevitability of the passage of time and worldly decay.

Much like the skies in the video, it’s both spooky and sublime all at once…and I can’t stop watching it’s ghostly loveliness. Over and over again!

R. Phillips
Exploring the wilds of Denver, Colorado, and beyond.