Saturday, March 26, 2016

Swift & Company (Refers)

John B Copleston posted
Swift & Company
Swift had one of the huge slaughtering houses on the west side of the Union Stock Yards. A comment I read is that he would go down to a fork of Bubbly Creek by his plant to make sure no waste was coming out. He was the one that proclaimed "we use everything except the squeal of the pig."

Refers were loaded with ice at icing platforms.
John B Copleston posted
Chicago plant of Swift & Company
John Nowakowski posted
Gustavus Franklin Swift (June 24, 1839 – March 29, 1903) founded a meat-packing empire in Chicago during the late 19th century, over which he presided until his death. He is credited with the development of the first practical ice-cooled railroad car, which allowed his company to ship dressed meats to all parts of the country and abroad, ushering in the "era of cheap beef." Swift pioneered the use of animal by-products for the manufacture of soap, glue, fertilizer, various types of sundries, and even medical products.The first consignment of dressed beef to ever leave the Chicago stockyards did so in 1857, and was carried in ordinary boxcars retrofitted with bins filled with ice.
John Nowakowski Swift would haul the ice from Wisconsin or Minnesota and pack the cars in Chicago, then ship the meat to the East Coast and undercut the local producers...
Peter Dudly shared
On January 16,1868, the first U.S. patent for a refrigerated railroad car was issued to William Davis of Detroit. It used an ice - salt mixture to keep meat cool during shipping.
This new "reefer" technology was first used by the Hammond-Standish Company, located on Detroit's 20th Street, adjacent to Michigan Central Railroad's Chicago / Detroit mainline. Their first refrigerated rail shipment (to Boston) probably travelled via "The Great Central Route", a partnership of Michigan CENTRAL Railroad (M.C.R.R.) and GREAT Western Railway of Canada (GWR).
Parts of the old Hammond-Standish slaughterhouse are still-standing, just west of Detroit's landmark Michigan Central Station (MCS).
This illustration, complete with knuckle couplers and air brake hoses (which didn't exist in 1868), was certainly NOT part of the original patent application.

I can't find the picture I saw of several men with paddles pushing black ovals in a long tank. The comments finally explained that the ovals were the backs of hogs floating in boiling water having their hair removed. It was probably hard grading the yuckyness of jobs in the meat packing industry, but having to remove the four inches of hair from the bottom of the tank was evidently one of the contenders.

John B Copleston posted
John B Copleston posted
Tom Krupica it was a prestigous job, getting to run the roller that marks the meat
Swift had plants in other towns as well.

Swift Brands Sioux City, Iowa meat packing plant circa 1917. Swift & Company photo, cropped
[I like the "billboard" refers. The wooden platform above the cars would be the conveyor belt carrying ice blocks from the ice plant. You can see a chute about a third of the way in from the right that would shove the blocks down into a car's ice bunker. I assume the chute can be moved along the conveyor from one bunker to another.]
Garland Floyd posted
Swift Mansion at 4500 South Michigan Avenue ChicagoMary Lu Andersen Seidel Inner City Youth foundation runs out of the home. Had an open house in October.Anthony Joseph Nasella III built by architect L.B. Dixon 
From a Jacob Spraggon posting I found another link about the mansion.

Carl Venzke posted
Reefer Icing Facilities Santa Fe Railroad Refrigerator Car
[Update: per a comment by Robert Chaparro, this example is transporting produce instead of meat.]
A nice view of the two loading hatches at each end of each car. Also note the walkways and hand brake wheels.
Brian Wunderlick posted

Rick Denton posted
Crushed ice....
Mike Ramsey Electric. I remember hand cranked ice chippers.
[They have electric motors, but note that the brake handwheel is still above the roofline.]


  1. Those Santa Fe refrigerator cars being iced by the mechanical icing machine are produce reefers, not meat reefers.