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From Cane Brake to Sugar Bowl (1958)

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation

Sound | 1958

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  •  Bob Bailey began his career in still photography, transitioning to industrial and educational filmmaking of the Houston area by the 1930s. The subjects of his many films include the gas and petroleum industry, real estate business, natural disasters, and sports. 
  •  Imperial Sugar Refinery and Char House  
  •  What we know today as Sugar Land originally began as the William’s Plantation 
  •  Imperial Sugar owns plantations in Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Louisiana 
  •  A preliminary refining process converts the sugar cane to raw sugar 
  •  Shipments of raw sugar arrive from the Port of Galveston to the Imperial Refinery in Sugar Land 
  •  The raw cane sugar undergoes the refining process to remove impurities 
  •  Skilled workers operate machines to compress liquid sugar 
  •  The iconic char house houses massive sugar filters 
  •  The next step of the refining process involves crystallization  
  •  The refined sugar undergoes one final sifting before the next phase 
  •  The sugar enters the packaging plant 
  •  Workers transport the packaged sugar moves into warehouses 
  •  The sugar industry effects Texans on a large scale 
  •  The community of Sugar Land 
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Presented by the Imperial Sugar Company, this 1958 industrial film cheerily describes the Texas company’s history and economic impact. Following a description of the sugar refining process from “cane to sugar bowl,” the film reflects on the importance of the sugar industry to Texans.
The city of Sugar Land now occupies the site that was once the Oakland Plantation. It was there that in 1843 Samuel May Williams installed a commercial sugar-grinding mill on his land, leading to a rapid shift from cotton to sugar cane as the area's dominant crop. In 1905, the area's sugar plantations were acquired by the Kempner family, who dubbed their company the Imperial Sugar Company. Though sugar has not been refined at the original plant since 2003, the company's headquarters remains in Sugar Land, making it the oldest extant business in Texas.