Marker location: 1.8 miles S. of Eagle Lake on Lakeside Dr. (FM 102)
Marker erected: 1976
The Sugar Industry, which began in Texas before the Civil War (1861-65), was revived in the late 1800s by cheaper refining methods. One of the leading sugar producers in Colorado County was William Dunovant. In 1898 he and several men from Eagle Lake built the Cane Belt Railroad to take cane to the mill. Later extended, the profitable rail line was purchased by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1902. The success of the railroad encouraged Dunovant to build a refining plant for this area. Lakeside sugar refinery, erected at this site about 1902, processed up to 1,000 tons of cane each day and produced 5,000,000 pounds of refined sugar each year. A train called the "Whangdoodle" carried cane from nearby fields to the refinery. By 1910 Lakeside Mill was one of the largest in Texas, with about 100 employees. It stimulated the local economy and attracted able businessmen, such as Rudolph Wintermann and son Oscar J. Wintermann. After its best season in 1908-09, the sugar industry declined. A state law forbidding use of convict labor raised production costs. A tropical storm damaged the refinery, and an early freeze destroyed much of the sugar crop. Sold in 1913, the Lakeside Refinery was dismantled in 1918 and rebuilt in Jamaica.
Check the Nesbitt Memorial Library Photograph and Images Collection for a series of photographs on the construction of this mill in 1901.
SUGAR MILL AT LAKESIDE WILL BE SHIPPED TO JAMACA[sic]
Work has begun at the Lakeside Sugar Mill of repairing all the machinery at the plant. The mill not having been operated for quite a number of years, the machinery naturally will have to undergo considerable repair work, Mr. Maurice Miller of New York is here and has the management of the work. The mill is owned by the J. D. White Company of New York. A force of about ninety men will be at work at the mill in the repair and remodeling of all the machinery from now until the coming November, at which time the plant will be shipped by the White company to Jamaca[sic].
Eagle Lake Headlight, March 9, 1918
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