Title: Armour Packing Company

Description: Postcard of the Armour Packing Company Building

Historical Article: California gold-rush history tells of a crude camp of Missourians at Placerville (Hangtown), Calif., where a young fellow, Phillip B. Armour, a butcher, had persuaded the small grocery store's owner to let him operate a meat department in the store. A novelty, but it did bring in business. Armour predicted that some day all stores would have meat departments and that if he could make enough money, he planned to butcher and sell meat wholesale to grocery stores.

In Kansas City at State Line and Central Avenue a small slaughterhouse was erected by Plankington & Armour in 1871. The company already had two large packinghouses, one in Milwaukee and one in Chicago. It was the era of the famous cattle trails from Texas. Growing industrial cities of the East were clamoring for pork and beef. John Plankington retired from Plankington & Armour in 1885 and Armour Brothers was organized. By 1908 it was one of the largest slaughterhouses in the world.

A feature story in the Kansas City Journal-Post of Oct. 16, 1904, used the same oval photograph as the promotional post card shown. The writer described operations:

Five thousand people, men and women all working together under practically one roof and all directed by one man! It is men and the system, humanity and the machine, that makes an enormous business like that of the Armours move like clockwork.

Promptness in getting to work is one of the inexorable rules of the system. Everyone from Mr. Armour down to the smallest and most insignificant employee in the house is on the timekeepers' books. At 6:30 a.m. the 'killing' gang hurries in and reports its arrival to the timekeepers. They arrive early so there will be material for the cutters to go to work on at 7:00.

Among the workmen engaged in the plant are butchers of every degree and branch known to the industry; painters; blacksmiths; wagon makers; car builders; horse shoers; carpenters; tinsmiths; galvanizers; box makers; coopers; can makers; electricians; draftsmen; mechanical engineers; boilermakers; lithographic printers; ice makers; chemists; firemen and many others. Each is a department to itself.

The big plant extended from the state line west to James Street on the north side of Central Avenue. There was 90 acres of floor space. The firm's business slogan was Meats for the World.

A big steam whistle on top of the powerhouse was used to call workers from their homes on Strawberry Hill and in Armourdale. The whistle could be heard for miles around and was used by many to set their clocks and watches. (The six-foot-long whistle is now owned by the City of Kansas City, Kansas, a donation from a salvage company, when the packinghouse buildings were razed in 1964 and 1965.)

Phillip Danforth Armour, founder; Simeon B. Armour, eldest brother; A. Watson Armour, and his sons, Kirk B. Armour and Charles B. Armour, made up the firm. The name was changed to Armour & Co. in 1910.

Operations for the new Armour processing plant at 13825 Wyandotte in the Martin City community began in March 1973. Processed meats such as hams, bacon, lunch meats, smoked meats, hot dogs and a new line of delicatessen items for supermarkets are produced and packaged in the new 100,000-square-foot plant.

Kansas City Times
November 10, 1978

Author: Ray, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)

Item Type: Postcard

Collection: Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981

Location: SC58

Local Subject: Businesses; Buildings; Armour Packing Plant; Armour Packing Company

Digital Format: JPEG

Barcode: 20000439

Repository: Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

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