A Short History Of Belton and the Gin at Nolan Creek
The Farmer’s Co-op Gin Company was created in 1928 as the population of Belton peaked at 6,500 people. This Gin was built to replace a mill that burned down in the 1920’s. The building that stands today was constructed between 1928 and 1929, mainly by the Theodore and Aurelia Hander family with Tom Karnes as the foreman and head brick mason. The concrete and mortar for the building was mixed on site using water from nearby Nolan Creek. This Co-op Gin in Belton is one of only two gins in Texas that were built of brick.
The Gin consisted of three work areas: The operator (which was used to remove the raw cotton from the wagons); The gin stands (which helped remove the lint fiber from the seeds and allowed them to be dropped into an auger trough to be stored elsewhere); and the hydraulic press (which allowed the fibers to be pressed into bales and wrapped in burlap). Most of the machinery was placed in the building by hoisting it in before the roof was constructed.
A quick transition from horse and mule to gas powered machines allowed cotton processing to become more efficient and the business boomed until the cotton industry collapsed in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Gin was then converted to the co-op feed store until its doors were closed in 2004.
The Rooms & Machinery
The Gin has gone through many transformations throughout the years: from a cotton gin in the 1920’s, a feed store in the 1940’s and falling into disrepair in the 2000’s. The biggest change has been the birth of “The Gin” complex.
Let’s take a tour from what is today to what used to be.
As you enter our waiting area you will witness where the original scale was housed. The wagons hauling cotton were brought here to have the cotton weighed.
Entering the Main dining area, with its high ceilings and open layout, there was ample space for the large cotton machinery. Much of the machinery could not be brought in through the doors, so it was hoisted into the building through the ceiling before the roof was constructed. Some of the machinery took skilled workmen to operate while other machines did not.
Following the stairs down to the Bar you will find where the press foundation was located. The bale press was so massive its foundation started here and as you ascend to the Loft dining area you will find the space where the press platform was positioned.
The Board room/dining room was the loading platform. It was here where workers would load bales of freshly pressed cotton onto the farmers’ trailers.
Our Main wait staff station was where the burlap was stored. Without the burlap the cotton bales would easily lose cotton or simply fall apart.
Pass through to the Banquet room and you will emerge into the cotton seed house. This room was important for keeping the newly detached cotton seeds together until they could be processed into oil. Next, take a stroll on the beautiful deck areas and imagine the wagons parked here before being loaded with cotton.
Lastly, visit The Weigh Station yogurt shop where the Office and Weigh room was positioned. All of the Gin’s transactions started and concluded in this area.
The Main Dining Room
The Waiting Area
The Yogurt Shop
Our Main Wait Staff Station
The Banquet Room
The Loft Dining Area
The Board Room Dining Room
The Deck Areas
The Machinery Area
The Trailer Shed
Original Scales (They Still Work!)
The Office and Weigh Room
The Burlap Room
The Cotton Seed House
The Bale Press Platform
The Loading Platform
Parking for the Wagons Before They Were Loaded
A Time Line
- January 1850
- August 1850