"Footprints in the Sugar" Book Review
Ten years ago it was just an idea for a book … today it is “Footprints in the Sugar,” a history of the Great Western Sugar Company, written by former Johnstown, Colo., resident, Candy Hamilton.
The Great Western Sugar Company changed ownership several times. Today, most of the former GWS factories have been torn down or sit in an abandoned state of disrepair. The positive impact the company had on its employees and communities where it erected its factories have become nothing more than faded memories of a once-grand industrial era. The majority of men and women who dedicated their lives to working in a Great Western factory have long-since retired or passed on, as have the farmers who grew sugar beets and those who labored in the fields.
Candy Hamilton and husband John lived on the former site of the Johnstown Molasses Desugarizing Plant from 1998 to 2001; John managed the cornstarch company that owned the site. At night the Hamiltons would take walks through the mill and stroll the amber-lit factory grounds. During those walks they felt a presence … the feeling was so strong they would turn and fully expect to see someone standing behind them. Although no one was ever physically there, a story was. As the Hamiltons gathered research for “Footprints in the Sugar” they traveled to every GWS factory site in Colorado. At each site, regardless of condition, they felt a presence.
Today, as the Hamiltons travel throughout Colorado to promote the book, the presence has come alive. The Hamiltons have met so many people who were connected either directly or indirectly with Great Western. The stories shared during those numerous meetings have made the words written by Hamilton come alive, an experience she had never thought possible.
Footprints in the Sugar is not intended to be “the history” of the Great Western Sugar Company but rather “a history” of the company. As Hamilton wrote, the book became much bigger than intended, its subject matter more extensive than originally planned. It became a book about ordinary people and rural towns, personal struggles and industrial triumphs, heartwarming quips and tragic sagas, rather than a book on beet sugar technology and how to plant sugar beets.
Hamilton says what evolved from a decade of research and writing is a book that presents a unique, historical perspective of a once grand company. “Footprints in the Sugar” can be read as a history of an industrial conglomerate or as a story of visionary men who believed there was more value in sugar beets than gold. Hamilton states she wrote the book to preserve as many memories and historical facts as she could and, in her own way, pay respect to all those who left their footprints in the sugar.
For more information about “Footprints in the Sugar,” or to order a copy of the book, please visit http://www.gwsfootprints.com.
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