The Stockyards

Meatpacking Technology

Technological breakthroughs dramatically altered work in the meatpacking plants. In 1872, packers began using newly invented ice-cooled units to preserve meat. With this technology, meatpacking was no longer limited to cold weather months; it could continue year-round. In 1882, Gustavus Swift developed the first refrigerated railroad car, thus making it possible to ship processed meat instead of live animals to America's eastern markets.

Advancements such as ice-cooled railroad cars enabled packinghouses to ship processed meat, 1904. (CHS DN-1011)

Decades prior to the creation of Henry Ford's Model T, Chicago meatpacking plants pioneered assembly line production. Meatpackers compartmentalized the work of slaughtering animals so that each laborer needed to learn only one technique. Hog carcasses were pulled along an overhead rail from worker to worker, and power lifts helped move large, heavy cattle carcasses along the assembly line. In addition, assembly lines also speeded up the canning and packaging operations, allowing for thousands of animals to be slaughtered and processed daily.

Al Capone
Black Sox
Century of Progress
Chicago Fire
World's Columbian Expo
Parades, Protests and Politics
THe Pullman Era
The Stockyards
The Stockyards Photos
The Stockyards bibliography
Fort Dearborn

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