Cudahy Meat Packing

Douglas Harding

I’m starting a new thread for discussion of Cudahy.

The map I posted this morning, came from a Cudahy Year book, published I think in 1932. It shows, at that time, the slaughter houses, branch houses, produce houses and Dutch Cleanser facilities. I found the Cudahy Year Books in the Iowa State University Library (our state AG school), in their dusty old back room files. Ie feet on the ground research.


Cudahy Meat Packing and Cudahy Brothers (later known as Patrick Cudahy), were two different and separate meat packing concerns. One was based in Omaha, started by Michael Cudahy and Philip Armour. The other was in Cudahy WIS and started by Patrick Cudahy (also connected to Armour). The founders were brothers, who both had connections to Armour via Plankinton, but they parted ways before the turn of the last century.


Cudahy Meat Packing had a reefer facility in Calumet Indiana. Reporting marks were CRLX. I cannot not address the paint/lettering schemes to a large extent. Attached is an image of a Cudahy car from the Yearbook, so this would be accurate for circa 1932. Cudahy also leased Mather Reefers (see ad), which also appears to be early 30s. Attached is a photo of South Omaha showing two Cudahy Dutch Cleanser reefers circa 1925-1928. All photos I have of Cudahy reefers after 1935 show the plain Jane lettering scheme that came into being after the 1934 “Billboard ban” law. P/L changed through the years, so era and photos are important.


Cudahy Brothers started and owned Northern Refrigerator Line, INC, also in Cudahy WIS. This included the Northern Refrigerator Car Co. Reporting Marks were NRC. Cudahy Bros sold their reefer company to Merchants Despatch Transportation in 1928. Reporting marks were MDT


As to the source of my information regarding the location of Cudahy facilities, the above mentioned Company Year Books are one source, as they contained photos of facilities and dates when acquired, along with the map. Much of the information was not on the internet, it required visiting libraries and digging through old files, books, documents and magazines. National Provisioner is a trade publication for the meat packing industry and can be found in some state Ag School libraries. Members of this group have provided information through the years. Of course the internet continues to surprise me. But you sometimes have to visit local libraries, local historical society websites, genealogy websites, and other places we do not normally think about when looking for information on railroads or industries.


As for the person walking in the train yard near the cars that started this conversation. In early years, before fences around tracks, many folks lived near the rail yards and often traversed them to get back and forth. Esp in the early years, like when the photos were taken. I can’t tell if it is a man or woman, they are just wearing a large flowing light colored coat or dress.


Doug Harding


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