Compiled by Steve Sandifer (webmaster)
and Donald Lake (Corporate Plant Operations Manager, Darling International,
and an O scale modeler, Omaha, NE)
The first use of a refrigerator car to handle
beef was in 1873. The car was a Texas and Atlantic car taking
meat from Denison, Texas, to New York. The refrigerator car meat
business nearly died 100 years later.
The operation of a meat packing plant is a very
involved and time sensitive matter. For a model railroad, a packer
can keep a switch crew busy all day long. It is not a matter of
the local dropping off a few stock cars and picking up a few reefers.
This is an attempt to understand how a meat packer would have
operated in the age of stock cars and ice reefers.
Since I am modeling the ATSF in Kansas in 1950-53,
my primary focus is the meat packing industry at that time. In
Emporia, Armour had a large packing plant in the middle of the
Anderson Cattle Company stockyards. Unfortunately I have learned
that Armour did not open their Emporia plant until 1963, but I
will backdate it as only modelers can.
Most packers (the larger ones ie. Swift, Armour,
etc.) had multiple facilities, meat preparation and cold storage
around the country, east coast and west coast. Meat from Swift
in Marshalltown would go to Swift in Chicago or New York or wherever
Swift had a distribution facility. Here it might be further processed,
beef quarters cut down to pieces of meat, or it was distributed
to local meat markets and butchers, etc. Remember, this was the
day before convenience frozen foods and local butchers were still
in control of meat distribution.
Most of the stock arriving in Emporia went to
Anderson Cattle Company or Peak & Hatcher sales barns that
were adjacent to Armour. Armour stock came through these companies
as well as their own chutes. Since supply and processing often
did not match, stock would be fed at the adjacent yards until
needed. Grain, hay, and other maintenance supplies were necessary
at these yards.
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