Disston Sugar Mill Ruins
Take a 360-degree virtual tour of the Disston Sugar Mill Ruins, a historical landmark in St. Cloud, Florida below with the thirteen spherical panoramic images that allow you to view the location just like if you were standing there in person.
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About the Disston Sugar Mill Ruins
The sugar cane industry has an exciting history of production in Florida. It was one of the most prosperous business sectors in the state and was often a point used in politics. The first commercialized Florida sugar cane plantations began in 1769 in New Smyrna, and small operations began to crop up around the state. Many of these small operations failed, leaving their once productive sugar mills abandoned and machinery often sold off. One of the many ruins left today for urban explorers to visit is the Disston Sugar Mill Ruins.
The History of the Disston Sugar Mills
In 1885, Hamilton Disston was a man who played a part in many of the developments in the state of Florida. He helped to develop railroads and introduced an idea to drain swamp water to create more land in the State of Florida. He was raised in Philadelphia, involved in his father’s business, and became friendly with local politicians. After his father’s death in 1877, he began to visit Florida to fish and became aware of the agricultural possibilities of the state.
After relocating to Florida, Hamilton Disston negotiated the purchase and development of an area covered in water and designated swamp lands. He believed he could remove the water and transform the land into a flourishing agricultural area. He involved the politicians of Florida in promoting his idea and sold them the idea that they would benefit as there would be land to reclaim once they drained the water.
The sugar mill creation came as an experiment on the land that was successfully drained o 20 acres near Southport. Sugar cane was planted on the land that had been covered in muck and three feet of water just the year before. After the cane began to grow, the operations extended to over 1800 acres due to the interest of Hamilton Disston. Because of the sugar output’s success, Disston commissioned a sugar mill to be built, and the Florida Sugar Manufacturing Company was born. There were several hundred tons of sugar produced every day.
In 1895, the government withdrew support for raw sugar production by abolishing the federal bounty on domestic sugar, and the sugar market began to crash. The sugar mill, shortly after, experienced cane borers that destroyed the crops creating financial ruin for the company. Hamilton Disston committed suicide as a result of his financial woes, leaving his heirs, who had no interest in continuing the efforts, to forfeit the land for taxes and sell off the machinery for scraps. All large-scale sugar plantation efforts were abandoned in Florida for over 20 years.
Today, urban explorers can visit the ruins that remain of the sugar mill that once thrived. While there is only a sturdy small brick building near a few canals amidst open fields, the area is incredible to explore a unique time in history for Florida.