Great State: Producing Oil in Downtown OKC Since 1944

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Crush the seed, put steam to it, and make oil.

Cottonseed oil.

That's the short version of a long story that sits on 25 acres of what is now prime real estate in Oklahoma City, and where Austin Rose now runs the Producers Co-perative Oil Mill.

It's been in business at this location since 1944.

"There was nothing around," says Rose of his plant's origins. "When it was built it was probably on the outer edges of Oklahoma City."

Stop the presses for a moment and go back in time.

Long before the 1980's that date one picture on the office walls, and the mid-1960's that date another picture of downtown on another office wall.

You can go back a whole century on the north bank of the Canadian River (now the Oklahoma River) and see cotton gins on the property.

Rose says, "Oklahoma City was probably a central location for all the cotton production at that time."

Of course, change is the watch word in this new era for Oklahoma City.

The Producers Co-Op mill is now the last hold out of an old industrial age for its neighborhood.

85 workers at the plant were wrapping up the Canola crop while we were there.

They make oil products from those seeds too.

Rose chuckles at any idea that his plant has taken on a kind of 'Wonka's Chocolate Factory' identity to outsiders.

Doors closed.

Mysterious machines whirring away.

It's the co-op's surroundings that have changed.

"We look out the front gate and we're in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City and Bricktown," says Rose.

When they started work in 1944 the co-op could process 150 tons of seed per day.

Now they can process 1000 tons per day.

The people who work here like where they are.

Producers Co-op had plans to move up to a year ago but those plans fell through.

After 70 years they're comfortable, even as the city changes around them.