As one of the earliest cottonseed crushing mills in the U.S., operating continuously from 1882, the Port Gibson Oil Works now sits in Mississippi, collapsing and abandoned. Cottonseed arrived at the mill by train. It was unloaded into seed houses, and fed into the cleaning room of the mill (pictured here) for removal of bolls and sand. Delinting and hulling of the cottonseed produced two by-products: lint (textile product) and hulls (cattle feed).
Seed meats were steam-cooked and placed under a hydraulic press with 5000 p.s.i. Cottonseed oil was extracted, and the remaining "cake" was ground into meal for cattle feed. A 1911 issue of the Imperial Valley Press stated that the mill once had the largest production in the world, pressing more than 40,000 tons a year.
Commentors online recounted their memories to the Preservation in Mississippi blog, including Brittany McGloster, who said her 63-year-old father, Percy McGloster, began working at the Port Gibson Mills at the age of 14 and "probably would still be there if it hadn’t closed... He still regrets missing most of my childhood, but I love him and appreciate his dedication and eagerness to provide for his family."
Adam Hudson said that her father, Maintenance Supervisor Robert Hudson was a farmer all his life until 1984 he started working at Port Gibson Oil Works... He married my mother on a Friday, had their honeymoon in Natchez, Mississippi that Saturday and Sunday. Then that Monday he started his first day of work at that Mill. I watched him work his way through the ranks since I was born in 1988 from a shift worker... I basically grew up going back and forth to this place and have many fond memories visiting him."
The final owners of the mill, multinational conglomerates Archer Daniels Midland, a public company with $17.8 billion in market capitalization, decided to close the plant in 2002, despite promises to keep the plant open in the distant future after purchasing it.