Armour Meat Packing Plant, Missing Buildings and Structures

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The above photo gives an impression how massive the National Stockyards were; Armour was in the upper right hand corner of the picture.

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What is most shocking about the aerial photo is just how much of the yards, and Armour itself, is gone. There were several large warehouses in front of the power plant (the building with two smokestacks), but of primary interest now is the long “cattle run” that began down in the yards and rose slowly up to the second floor level of the Armour plant.

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All photos from 1986 courtesy of Dennis Bensheimer.

The cattle run would have first passed by this destroyed building, seen above in June 1986, and below in the present day. As can be seen when comparing the two photos, the upper row of windows have collapsed; these would have originally looked out towards the smokestacks from the lard refinery.

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As can then be seen, the cattle run passed by on rear of the plant, tall enough apparently for there to be several sheds and other storehouses under the run.


The cattle run was already partially demolished in 1986, and now no longer exists in any portion. Its heavy timber construction undoubtedly was susceptible to the elements.

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All photos from 1986 courtesy of Dennis Bensheimer.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t believe at first that these structures did in fact hold the weight of thousands of cattle trampling over them every day, but the photographs and Sanborn maps corroborate each other. There would have been an enclosed structure on top of the supports seen above and below, leading to the slaughterhouse building behind the power plant.

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The postcard below, from Chicago, illustrates what an intact cattle run probably looked like at National City.


Here is another Sanborn map detail below that shows the cattle run and the buildings underneath it.


This historic photograph is some of the only evidence left of the large meat refrigerators that fronted the Armour complex. Everything except the smokestacks peaking out above the building in the foreground is gone.

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We know these structures stored beef and pork before the products were shipped off on the rail lines running in front of Armour; examine the Sanborn maps below to see the various uses for each “cooler,” as the warehouses are labeled. The covered railroad tracks are clearly visible. The most fascinating aspect of these new photos and maps is the revelation that the slaughtering process was multi-storied, and did not just function on the ground level; animals and their meat made it up to even the fourth floor of the various buildings at the plant.




Update: Demolished by implosion in April 2016.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ann says:

    This is seriously fascinating. I hope Armour doesn’t continue to disappear…

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