History Faculty Publications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Source

Essays on the History of Organic Chemistry


Between 1885 and 1895 the Louisiana sugar industry experienced a scientific and technological revolution in methods, process apparatus, and scale of operations. The animal-powered mills and open kettles characteristic of the antebellum period were supplanted by large, technically designed, and scientifically controlled central factories . In 1880 there were approximately 1,000 sugar houses in Louisiana with an average annual production of 110 long tons of sugar per house. By 1900 fewer than 300 factories constituted the state's sugar industry, but yearly production averaged over 980 long tons for each sugar house. One commentator of the period, Mark Twain, described a modern Louisiana sugar factory as a "wilderness of tubs and tanks and vats and filters, pumps, pipes and machinery."1

This new industrial world that emerged in rural Louisiana was brought about in large part by a variety of local institutions working in alliance with the United States Department of Agriculture. They included the Louisiana Sugar Planters' Association, the Louisiana Sugar Experiment Station, the Audubon Sugar School, and Louisiana State University. These organizations facilitated the introduction of a progressive chemical and engineering technology, derived in part from the European beet sugar industry, into the traditional plantation culture of the Deep South.

Inclusive pages




Document Version

Published Version


This chapter has been provided for download by permission of the publisher. Permission documentation is on file.


Louisiana State University Press

Place of Publication

Baton Rouge, LA