Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa Pork Placking

Pork packing was begun, in a small way, in Sioux City, in the winter of 1872-3. The building occupied was a small wooden affair on Water street above Fifth. That season H.D. Booge & Co. killed 5,000 hogs. The experiment was a success, and the following summer a large brick building was put up on the site of the frame one, where the business first started. Additions to this building were made from year to year, until its capacity was increased to 500 hogs per day, and there was no room for further extensions. In the spring of 1881, work was begun on the pork house now occupied in the east part of the city. The site is all that could be wished. The Floyd furnishes drainage, and the nearness to railroads allows the cars of the different lines centering at the city to deliver hogs directly into the yards beside the packinghouse, and to load the manufactured product directly from the storage rooms into the cars. There is plenty of ground, some fourteen acres of city lots having been bought. The new building cost over $100,000, and more than a million and a half of brick were used in its building. Competent judges pronounce it the most complete structure of the kind in the State. The ice is run directly from the Floyd River into the great 6,000 ton icehouse. For summer packing this ice in skidded from the icehouse into the refrigerator that occupies an entire story of the main building. A stream elevator connects the different floors. In the fertilizer room, the parts that would otherwise go to waste are worked over into an odorless powder that is in demand for enriching the worn out fields of the east. Every part of the defunct porker is utilized, from the tough terminus of the snout, to the brush of bristles that beautifies the tip of the tail. The house has a capacity of 1,000 hogs per day, the capacity being measured by the hanging capacity. This has been found insufficient for the hogs offered, and the coming season an addition will be built that will increase the capacity about 50 per cent.

The firm conducting the business of Jas. E. Booge & Co., consists of Jas. E. Booge, of Sioux City, and John L. Merriam, A.H. Wilder and Wm. R. Merriam, of St. Paul. The first named gentleman has been connected with the business from the first, and the three others for several years. As appears from the report made to the Board of Trade, the pork house had, during the two months ending January 1st, 1882, killed 37,000 hogs, and paid for these $580,000. The labor bills during this time footed up $14,000 and the pay roll showed 188 men employed.

No other business in Sioux City does so much to advertise the name of the town. The hams made can be found on hotel tables from Chicago to San Francisco. The side meat goes mostly to the south, Memphis, New Orleans and Mobile being the principal points of sale. The lard goes to Chicago and the bacon finds a ready market all over the west, the heaviest demand coming from the mining camps and military posts of the Upper Missouri. The Sioux City Pork house has a practical monopoly of supplying hog products to the military posts in the northwest, having, during the past year, secured more than eight per cent. Of the contracts let. The position of the town as a railroad center, in the midst of one of the best corn growing sections of the Union, makes the steady supply of swine certain, and the exceptional advantages for the distribution of the product, allows prices to be paid that while remunerative to the hog grower, leaves a fair margin of profit to the packer.

Source: Woodbury County Iowa, History of Western Iowa, 1882

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