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Pour Some Sugar On Me..

Sugarcane field in blue sky and white cloud in Thailand

What makes your morning coffee so good? Or your favorite dessert so sweet?  It’s SUGAR.  But have you ever stopped and thought about where it comes from?  Derived from sugarcane, granulated sugar as we know it goes through a multi-step process before landing on grocery store shelves.  Did you know Louisiana has been the largest producer of the nation’s sugar since 1795?   

Originally brought to Louisiana in the late 1600’s the first attempts to produce thriving crops of sugar cane were unsuccessful due to the incorrect strain being planted, cold weather and a short planting season.  In 1795, Etienne de Bore and an expert sugar maker from Santo Domingo produced the most profitable crop of sugar cane, netting $12,000.  And from here the sugar cane industry was born in Louisiana. 

The growth of Louisiana’s sugar industry was catapulted by the adoption of steam powered mills, the invention of a multiple-effect evaporation process, and slave labor.   

By 1861, Louisiana had 1,200 sugar cane plantations across 24 parishes (counties) producing 528 million pounds of sugar that year.  Houmas House at that time was owned by John Burnside and became known as ‘The Sugar Palace’ with its production of 20 million pounds of sugar and spanning 300,000 acres in 1861.  Louisiana was the main source of sugar to the entire United States.  

The Civil War, World War I and The Great Depression all impacted the sugar industry, forcing it to constantly adapt in order to survive.  Over the next 100 years, technology advancements, multi-generations of farmers and the desire to persevere have helped Louisiana’s sugar industry grow and survive the ever-changing world. 

Today, Houmas House is no longer a sugar-producing plantation.  Reduced to 38 acres, this historic estate tells the fascinating history of how a succession of sugar cane farmers, entrepreneurs, and an Irish immigrant established Houmas House.  Starting as a trading post in 1774, it became one of the most influential plantations in the United States.  Although known for its contribution to the sugar industry, today visitors come to see the architecture, gardens and unique artifacts on display throughout the mansion.



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