Romance of Omaha, Chapter V

From Alaska to the Argentine, from the farthest north to the uttermost south, in China, India, Africa, Australasia, the South Sea islands and throughout Europe, Omaha-made products now are found.

Ice-making machines, manufactured here, are cooling successfully throughout the tropics.

Omaha bacon is used on the tables of Paris, Berlin, London and the far east.

The homesick Omaha traveler may be gladdened in port or inland city at any time by the sight of box or can labeled "Made in Omaha."

Yet Omaha has been a manufacturing center only a comparatively short time.

Fifty years ago the manufacturing establishments of the city were small and their output limited.

Today Omaha factories turn out $400,000,000 worth of manufactured goods every year and in the course of the next few years this output promises to be vastly increased.

Presents Mammoth Investment

The total investment in the manufacturing industry in Omaha today is estimated at $100,000,000. Fifty per cent of that sum is invested in the packing industry, the largest in the city.

More than $200,000,000 annually is distributed in the Omaha trade territory for raw material by the Omaha factories.

Of that amount $167,000,000 is paid for livestock by Omaha packers every year.

The manufacturing industry which has reached such gratifying size in Omaha, was not really started until about the year 1870, when the smelter came to the city. Two years later the packing industry was launched and from then on the growth of manufacturing in Omaha has been steady.

First Town Factories Come

The first two manufacturing enterprises in Omaha were sawmills. They were followed by carriage factories, brick yards, nail works and a barbed wire factory. The latter was one of the most ambitious undertakings of early Omaha.

The sawmills disappeared as soon as the native timber near Omaha had been cut down.

The carriage factories lasted longer but never grew to any great size.

The nail and barbed wire works succumbed because of competition of larger plants.

Thus it was that in the early desire of Omaha men to create great manufacturing plants failed until the early 70s, when industries that gave promise of they turned their attention to permanency and future development.

The smelter was started in 1870, in a small way, but it was developed until now it is the largest producer of refined pig lead in the United States.

Largest Smelter of Lead

Thirty per cent of all the lead produced in American smelters annually - 165,000 tons - is turned out from the Omaha plant.

It also produces 20,000,000 ounces of gold and 160,000 pounds of bismuth yearly.

Following the smelter as a permanent industry and destined to far surpass it in size, was the packing business.

The first plant was opened in 1871, but it was small. In 1872 James E. Boyd, noted pioneer, opened a packing house and during the first year killed 4,500 hogs. That was quite a showing in those times. The Boyd packing plant grew until it was killing 60,000 hogs a year.

That was before the stockyards were established. It was not until December, 1883, that the Union Stockyards company was organized. The company erected a packing plant at a cost of $60,000 and leased it to G. H. Hammond & Co. The first hogs were killed in the new packing house in January, 1885. An agent of the packers went out in the state and bought three carloads of porkers in order to open the house. Later on the same year cattle were killed.

Here Come the Packing Plants

Packing house followed packing house from then on until today more than $50,000,000 is invested in the packing industry and almost 5,000,000 head of livestock are killed annually.

Omaha is now the first feeder sheep market in the United States, is one of the three largest livestock markets and has at times ranked second in the number of head of livestock received in a year.

Only Chicago and Kansas City compare with Omaha as a livestock center.

The packers pay out every year approximately $167,000,000 for the livestock they use, but the total amount distributed for stock shipped to Omaha approximates $235,000,000 every twelve months.

During the last 10 years it is estimated that the staggering sum of $2,500,000,000 has been paid to the farmers and stockmen of the Omaha territory shipping to this market.

Five Mighty Packing Houses

The packing industry is now carried on by five great packing plants and a number of smaller houses. Almost 100 livestock commission firms are needed to handle the livestock receipts and shipments.

Although the largest single industry in the city, the packing business does not comprise by any means the total of the Omaha manufacturing district.

The output of butter and creamery products is valued at $26,000,000 a year.

Flour and mill products total $14,000,000 annually.

Smelter products are worth $40,000,000 each year.

The grand total is approximately $400,000,000, embracing scores of different articles from ice-making machines to macaroni and from soap to candy.

It may be difficult to imagine that romance could enter into such prosaic matters as the making of ice machines, the packing of meat or the manufacture of cleansing powder. Yet there is an element of romance in them all.

Romance of Ice Machinery

The imagination is kindled by the story of the Omaha-made ice machine that was sold to an enterprising citizen of an inland town in South America.

The machine traveled from Omaha to the gulf by rail, then by steamboat to the nearest South American port. There it was transferred to a river boat. Later it was packed on mules and still later carried on the backs of natives along jungle paths and over mountain roads until it reached its destination. The machine, manufactured in Omaha, is now making ice in a faraway, almost inaccessible town beyond the Andes in Latin America.

Omaha meats have accompanied explorers to the north pole.

Omaha-made bacon and ham and cleansing powders are for sale in London shops.

In faraway India and China, as well as in South America, our ice machines are spreading their cooling influence and doing their best to make life more pleasant.

Italy Eats Omaha Macaroni

Omaha-made macaroni is sold and eaten in Italy, Omaha butter is sold in every state in the union. Omaha is the largest butter producing market in the country.

Flour made in Omaha can be purchased almost anywhere. So can Omaha crackers and coffees.

Canned meats and sausages may be found wherever the wandering traveler wends his steps. Omaha-made automobile tires also are on the automobiles of thousands of farmers of the middlewest.

The future prospects of Omaha manufacturing industries are bright.

The promise of inland waterways with cheaper transportation will mean great things for Omaha's manufacturers. Even now the raw material of the west goes far away to find a market when it might be sold to factories in Omaha.

A greater day is dawning for this city in a manufacturing sense.

Chapter VI
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