I was exploring the fading towns of the Arkansas River Valley in southeastern Colorado when the elevators of Sugar City Grain appeared in the distance. The Eastern Plains are dotted with the remains of vanished or vanishing sugar towns, the elevators their only markers.
As I explored the town -- once home to thousands, and now just a couple hundred -- I crossed paths repeatedly with this young couple.
Formed around the National Sugar Company's main beet mill in 1900, the town thrived until the company went bankrupt in 1967.
The woman, walking unflinchingly away, repeating that it was over; this was the last time, she wouldn't be coming back.
Sugar beets are said by many historians to have been the crop that saved Colorado after repeated busts called into question the viability of dryland farming in the late 19th century.
The young man, looking years her junior on the freestyle bike, followed and circled around her repeatedly, impotently asking her to stay. After making several other pictures, they walked into my frame and I made this single picture.
Since cane sugar imports started to price out beet sugar in the 1960s Colorado sugar towns have been in steady decline. With corn syrup supplanting sugar in the 1980s, they began to fade even more quickly.
I made several more pictures in Sugar City before returning to the highway, watching the couple from a distance until they finally headed off in opposite directions.