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Ogden Union Stock Yards

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This page was last updated on January 2, 2018.

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Overview

The Ogden stock yards had its beginning on the east bank of the Weber River, north of 24th Street in Ogden, Utah. Ogden Packing Company was organized in February 1906 and a small stockyard was built to the south of the packing house. This yard was used by local farmers to sell and trade their livestock. This is also where the Ogden Packing Company purchased a good part of their slaughter livestock. In the year 1916 or 1917 there was so much of a demand for stockyard facilities that it was moved across the Weber River to the west where there was enough room for expansion. The year 1917 was the first year the Ogden Livestock Show was held.

Ogden Union Stock Yards had a major impact on the local economy. The exchange or handling of money in the local banks due to the selling of livestock amounted to over $60 Million a year. Cattle were generally figured as being worth $200.00 each, hogs were $75.00 each, and sheep were $15.00 each.

Ogden was the largest stock handling facility in Utah, with 570 pens. The second largest was Salt Lake Union Stock Yards with 168 pens, and the distant third was Cedar City with 21 pens, 12 of which were solely for loading sheep.

Adding to this the stock yard, including the marketing agencies, had about 100 steady employees and the three packing houses had over 150 employees, which added to the economic strength of this area.

(Read the Ogden Union Stockyards section from the book, "Ogden Rails," by Don Strack)

Timeline

March 6, 1916
Ogden Packing & Provision announced the organization of Ogden Union Stock Yards Co. to handle the increased number of livestock needed for the expansion of its packing plant. (Ogden Standard, March 6, 1916)

There will be killed in the local plant 1000 hogs, 1500 sheep and 300 head of cattle each day, representing in livestock and dressed beef 47 carloads moving in and out of Ogden every 24 hours.

The 1000 hogs will require 12 cars; the dressed product of 150,000 pounds, 7 cars. The 1500 sheep will call for 6 cars, in dressed form; 75,000 pounds, or 4 cars. The 300 cattle will occupy 10 cars; as dressed meat, 165,000 pounds, or 8' cars.

Work on the stockyards is to begin before the end of this week. Concrete floors are to cover the entire area as a sanitary measure and the very latest improvements will be made part of the enclosures. When completed, the yards will be more modern than those of Chicago.

March 7, 1916
"Big Stockyards To Be Built In Ogden" The new stock yards were to cover 70 acres on a parcel of 72 acres of ground along the north side of Wilson Lane. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 7, 1916)

Plans have been completed for the organization of the Ogden Union Stock yards company. While the stockyard company will be an entirely distinct company from the packing concern, prominent stockholders of the latter are also interested in the new project. An eastern architect was summoned to this city today to outline the general arrangement of the stockyards, which are to cover a site of seventy-two acres immediately west of the packing plant on West Twenty-fourth street. The stockyards company will be capitalized for $250,000, most of which will be expended during the present year for buildings, fences and other improvements.

The extensions of the packing plant alone mean that forty-seven carloads of livestock and dressed meats will be handled in and out of Ogden every twenty-four hours. This does not include the hundreds of cars of livestock passing through the stockyards and not handled by the local packing company.

March 9, 1916
Included in Ogden Packing & Provision announced addition to its building, measuring 100 feet by 100 feet (larger than its existing plant), were "Modern stock yards will be built on the 70 acres of ground west of the company's plant, across Weber river." Work was to begin "before the end of the week." (Logan Republican, March 9, 1916)

March 27, 1916
A separate Union Stock Yards company was incorporated to build the stock yards across the river (west) from the existing packing plant. (Ogden Standard, March 27, 1916)

October 28, 1916
"Contracts Let For The Construction Of Stock Yards Across River" The contract for the construction of the stock yards was awarded to James Stewart & Co., the same contractor building the addition on the packing plant. (Ogden Standard, October 28, 1916)

The grading for the yards, located west of the Weber river and north of Wilson lane, was started several days ago by the stockyards company and the placing of cement for the yard floors, together with building of stock pens, sheds, offices and other structures will commcance at once.

The concrete pier and abutments for the bridge across Weber river connecting the stockyards with the plant of the Ogden Packing and Provision company already have been placed. Bridge steel for the structure is anticipated in a very short time. When this bridge is finished, the present stockyards used by the packing company east of the river will be entirely removed, many of the pens having already been torn down to make room for the new buildings.

December 15, 1916
"Completing The New Stock Yards" (Ogden Standard, December 15, 1916)

New stock yards of the Ogden Packing & Provision company, just south of the new Ogden Union Stock Yards, across the Weber river from the packing plant, will be completed and ready for use next week. All of the yards, pens and runaways, have concrete floors, concrete watering troughs, sewerage and modern watering systems. Accommodations will be ample for 2,000 sheep and 1,600 hogs, under roof, and 300 cattle. The ventilation and drainage systems are regarded as perfect.

(The holding pens of the packing company were separate but adjacent to the pens of the Ogden Union Stock Yards compnay, which were still under construction.)

April 3, 1917
The official opening of Ogden Union Stock Yards was on April 3, 1917, with a reported cost of $50,000. At that time, the stock yards had the capacity of 280 carloads of livestock. (Wasatch Wave, April 6, 1917)

February 9, 1918
"Ogden Union Stockyards Are Doing Most Extensive Business" (Ogden Standard, February 9, 1918) (Includes an excellent summary and description of the stock yards and their business.)

There are three divisions of the stock business in Ogden. Marketable stock, including sheep, cattle, hogs, find a ready sale at the Ogden Packing & Provision company's plant where thousands of tons of meats are packed yearly. Stock not quite ready for killing find a ready market at the Hansen Livestock & Feeding company's immense feed yards. Feeders are taken here and prepared by scientific care in a few months for prime killing stock. Monthly hundreds of head of horses and mules are disposed of at these yards They act as the big clearing house for horses and mules for the intermountain country and the northwest.

The Union Stockyards have been completed and in working order only about eleven months but during that time they have handled an incredible amount of animals. From April 1 to December 31, 1917, there were no less than 593,667 bead of livestock handled through these stockyards. This represents 5780 carloads received during the nine months. This amount figures at the rate of about 22 trainloads during each month as there are about 30 carloads to the average train.

The figures showing the total of animals handled during this period have been compiled by L. F. Whitlock, general manager of the Union Stockyards of Ogden and are as follows: Cattle, 64.533 head; hogs, 55,933; sheep, 362,710 head; horses and mules 25,481 head.

January 2, 1923
Ogden Packing & Provision Company controlled 5/6 (83 percent) of the stock of Ogden Union Stock Yards company. (Ogden Standard, January 2, 1923)

July 5, 1924
The Ogden Packing and Provision Company became the American Packing and Provision Company. At the same time they obtained control of the Ogden stock yards and held control until Congress passed a law in 1935 prohibiting a packing house from owning or having an interest in stockyards. In January 1936, the stockyard was sold to the Denver Union Stock Yard company and was operated by them until January 31, 1971, when the Ogden stock yards were closed.

1930
"UNION STOCK YARDS — Employees 40, payroll $72,000. Total approximate value of stock handled $34,334,265. Ntimber handled 2,147,438 from 23 states as follows: Cattle 134,455 head; 276,194 hogs; 1,733,671 sheep and lambs; 3,118 horses and mules. Cars handled incoming, 13,298; outgoing, 13,531. Yards extend over 75 acres, 30 acres of which are under cover. Capacity: 6,000 cattle (200 cars); 42,000 sheep (150 cars); 4,000 hogs (80 cars) at one time. Large exchange building houses offices of various commission houses represented on this market and a branch railroad office. It is estimated 200 additional people are employed by livestock interests in Ogden, including commission firms, their yard men, etc." (Ogden Chamber of Commerce, "Ogden, Gateway to the Intermountain West", 1930)

August 31, 1930
"Ogden's Livestock And Packing Facilities Largest In Intermountain West" (Ogden Standard Examiner, August 31, 1930)

(A full page devoted to Ogden Union Stock Yards and the adjcent American Packing & Provision company, with photos)

September 10, 1930
"Construction of a $100,000 livestock exchange building at the Ogden Union Stock Yards was begun by George Whitmeyer & Sons, contractors." (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 10, 1980, "Remember When, 50 Years Ago")

Summer 1933
D&RGW completed a direct spur from its Ogden rail yards into Ogden Union Stock Yards, giving the company direct access to the stock yard business. (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 27, 1933, "last summer")

June 1935
Ogden was the third largest sheep shipping center, with Denver being first and Chicago being second. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 19, 1953)

July 28, 1935
"Ogden Yards Operate At Feverish Pace As Flood of Sheep Being Handled" (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 28, 1935)

Shortly after noon Saturday the counters finished tallying 111 cars of the woolies within a 10-hour-period and took a brief respite while the lambs ate and drank their fill preparatory to going over the scales and back on the cars for national distribution. Approximately 50 cars of lambs have been sold in Ogden in the past 36 hours and the total sales at this market so far during July have eclipsed all previous July records and are nearly three times the number sold in July a year ago.

The top sale Saturday was $7.65 for five doubles of choice lambs from Hill City, Idaho, and two loads from Donnelly, Idaho. One national packer alone placed bids on nearly 50 carloads. Lambs are being forwarded to packers located from San Diego and Los Angeles on the west and Jersey City, N. J. on the east. Orders are pouring in for feeder lambs which it is impossible to fill, according to the various commission firms operating here. Choice feeding lambs would bring as high as $6.50 per cwt. were they available. The lambs are grading predominantly fat and therefore move into killer channels instead of to the feed-lots. During the past 48 hours lambs have moved out to packers or feeders in California, Nebraska., Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and New Jersey.

It is not unusual to have the first of a trainload of lambs nibbling hay within 15 minutes of the time they arrive in the inbound freight yards. The experienced stockyard handling crews average less than two minutes per car in unloading and yarding.

One solid trainload of 90 cars departed for the east at midnight Saturday, making ample room for further receipts.

The major portion of the receipts is coming from Idaho and Oregon with still a few shipments from California, loaded in the Sierras.

Receipts for the month of July now exceed those of a year ago and give promise of surpassing the July record which now stands at 395,767 for July, 1931.

September 29, 1935
"With two days left in the month, sheep receipts up to Saturday totaled 385,232 head, compared with the best previous record of 352,766 head in September, 1932. Sales of sheep in the first 28 days of September were over 106,000 head compared with 81,000 for the same month a year ago and 94,209 head sold during September, 1934 the best previous mark." (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 29, 1935)

January 4, 1936
Ogden Union Stock Yards Company was sold to a group investors in Denver, Colorado, following several months of negotiations. These same investors own several other stock yards across the nation, including Denver's. The purchase price was reported as $550,000, plus another $50,000 in inventory, making the total $600,000. (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 5, 1936)

"Ogden is one of the more important livestock markets of the west, having handled in the year 1935 the following: cattle, 123,531: calves, 8,404: hogs, 133,548; sheep, 2,419,874; and horses and mules, 22,325." (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 5, 1936)

January 9, 1936
The sale on January 4, 1936 included stock yards in Pocatello and Montpelier, Idaho. On January 9th, the Denver separated the Ogden assets from the Idaho assets under two new names: Ogden Union Stockyards company, and Idaho Stockyards company. The previous name for the Ogden assets had been "Union Stockyards company," without the Ogden identifier. (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 9, 1936, "today")

September 9, 1936
The final transfer of property from the old Union Stockyards company, to the new Ogden Union Stockyards company, took place on September 9, 1936. The final sale included 70 acres for $529,500, and five acres owned directly by American Packing & Provision for $20,000. (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 9, 1936) (This latter five acres held the holding pens of the packing company on the west side of the river, which in turn was connected to the packing plant by the bridge across the river.)

June 6, 1937
Union Pacific announced a new, fast 26-hour service to ship lambs from Ogden to Denver, thus meeting the requirements of the latest change in the federal 28-hour law. (Ogden Standard Examiner, June 6, 1937)

December 30, 1938
"Final Touches Being Placed On Addition to Show Coliseum" "The $25,000 addition to the livestock show coliseum in West Ogden is being put in shape for use. It will house junior exhibitors' entries during the show and will be used as a dairy cattle barn during the remainder of the year. Measuring 80 by 200 feet, the addition is being fitted with removable pen partitions, rust-proof troughs and water equipment. The floor will be dirt, as many dairy stock shippers prefer that kind, explained D. F. Estes, stockyards secretary. The addition was erected jointly by the stockyards and stock show interests." (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 30, 1938)

1939
To increase activities in the cattle sales the Ogden Union Stock Yards found an interested party that would operate a cattle auction at the stockyards. This action was started in 1939 and thereby offered the consignors of cattle an option of selling their cattle by private treaty through a commission firm or through the auction. The Ogden Stockyards is probably the first terminal livestock market in the United States to have a cattle auction along with private treaty sales. In the last few years of operation cattle, hogs, and sheep were sold by auction exclusively.

February 19, 1950
"$87,500,000 worth of livestock was handled at Ogden last year, of which $36,600,000 worth changed hands on the market." (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 19, 1950; advertisment, "Livestock Won The West," including aerial photo)

May 5, 1952
The Weber River flooded, and forced Ogden Union Stock Yards to close temporarily. The river overflowed its banks and flooded about 50 acres of the stock yards. About 500 head of cattle was moved to safe ground. (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 5, 1972, "Remember When, 20 Years Ago")

February 22, 1953
"$40,000,000 worth of livestock changed hands on the market at Ogden last year." (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 22, 1953; advertisment, "Livestock Won The West," including aerial photo)

July 2, 1956
"C. Rowland Knowles, longtime employee of the Ogden Union Stockyards Co., was named vice president and general manager of that firm. He succeeded R. C. Albright who had been granted a leave of absence." (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 2, 1976, "Remember When, 20 Years Ago")

November 14, 1970
Swift & Company closed its Ogden plant on November 14, 1970.

January 31, 1971
The Ogden Union Stockyards closed on January 31, 1971. Within a year, the stockyards and all adjacent property, including the Coliseum and Exchange buildings, were sold to Weber County by the parent company, Denver Union Stock Yards. (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 16, 1972; "Progress '72" Edition)

October 4, 1975
The following comes from The Kansas City Star, October 4, 1975:

Wilson Meat-Packing Plant to Close -- The Wilson & Co., Inc., plant in Kansas City, Kansas, will be closed permanently April 3 [1976], it was announced yesterday in Oklahoma City, where the meat packing and processing firm is based. The Omaha plant also will be closed on the same date.

The Kansas City plant, which has 400 employees and has been in operation since 1893, slaughters cattle and processes pork. The Omaha plant slaughters and processes beef and pork.In the 1940s when the big four meat packers operated in the Kansas City area, Kansas City was considered second only to Chicago as the meat-packing capital of the world. A slowdown in the industry also is observable in Chicago and the stockyards there no longer handle hogs at all.

K.J. Griggy, president and chief executive officer of the Wilson company, said the plants can no longer be operated on a profitable basis. He also cited changing livestock marketing and distribution patterns and the need for the company to consolidate production in fewer and more efficient facilities as reasons for the closings.

Kansas City once was home to the "Big Four" packinghouses, Cudahy, Armour, Swift and Wilson. The 1951 flood signaled the beginning of the end for the industry. Cudahy never reopened. Armour closed in 1965; Swift drastically cut its Kansas City operations in 1968. Wilson ended the meatpacking era for good when it closed in April 1976. (The Kansas City Star, September 18, 2005)

March 21, 1993
The livestock auction at the former Ogden Union Stockyards was operating under the name of Weber Livestock Auction Company. The auction took place every Tuesday in the small wooden building between the former brick Golden Spike building, and the brick Exchange building. The Weber auction company was owned by Keith Anderson and Dick Widdison, and had been running the weekly auction since January 4, 1972, after the auction yard had been closed for one year. (Ogden Standard Examiner, March 21, 1993; "Horizons" section, photo essay by Anne Raup)

Number of Cars of Livestock Unloaded and Reloaded

 

1930

1945 (peak)

1966

Cattle

 

19,000 cars

2,060 cars

Hogs

 

6,000 cars

2,528 cars

Sheep

 

20,000 cars

730 cars

Total

13,298 (in)

 

 

 

13,531 (out)

45,000 cars

5,319 cars

Cars, Daily

38 (calculated)

123

15

Source: Kenneth Knowles

Commission Firms Operating At The Stockyards

Merrion and Wilkins

Sheep

W. R. Smith and Son

Sheep

Lowell and Miller

Sheep

Peck Brothers

Cattle, Hogs, Sheep

John Clay

Cattle, Hogs, Sheep

Producers Livestock Marketing Association

Cattle, Hogs, Sheep

L. L. Keller

Cattle, Sheep

Farmers Union

Cattle, Hogs, Sheep

Ogden Auction

Cattle

Alex Patterson Commission Company

Cattle, Hogs, Sheep

Ogden Stockyards Statistics

 

1930

1933

1943

1944

1953

1960

1967

1970 (final)

Cattle (head)

134,455

27,600

205,000

298,200

190,000

120,000

113,000

56,000

Hog (head)

276,194

16,800

364,000

345,600

29,500

30,000

30,000

12,000

Sheep and Lambs (head)

1,733,671

250,000

1,887,000

1,716,300

777,000

444,000

290,000

100,000

Horses and Mules (head)

3,118

 

10,800

16,551

 

 

 

 

Total (head)

2,147,438

294,400

2,466,800

2,360,100

996,500

594,000

433,000

168,000

A. Figures for 1930 from "Ogden - The Gateway to the Intermountain West"

B. Figures for 1943 from "Do Tell", Volume 1, number 1, October 1944.

C. Figures for 1944 from "Do Tell", Volume 1, number 12, September 1945.

W. C. Parke & Sons

The following comes from "Do Tell", Ogden Chamber of Commerce newsletter, Volume 2, number 1, October 1945:

Started by William C. Parke in 1926 with the purchase of Fox & Keller Dressed Meat Company, where Mr. Parke had been an employee. He operated the company at the Fox & Keller facility on 17th Street until 1928. The new plant was constructed at 724 West 21st Street in 1928 at a cost of $40,000.

The Parke company owned a feed lot, which held 500 to 1,500 head of cattle. The company used 2 million pounds of grain and 1,000 tons of hay in its feed lot operation. The hay was grown on a 1,900 acre ranch owned by the company in Huntsville.

The company produced wholesale dressed meat and sausage for local distribution. The company's annual kill was 5,000 head of cattle, 6,000 to 8,000 head of hogs, 3,000 head of sheep and 1,500 head of veal.

Joe Simpson says that W. C. Parke purchased the Wilson & Company operation in about 1942-1943. (Interview with Joseph G. Simpson, July 14, 1996)

(Contrary to popular belief, the name of the road passing through West Ogden, Wilson Lane, dates from at least the early 1880s. It is not associated with any of the meat packing houses or livestock companies that were located along the same road, and especially with the later Wilson & Company. Wilson & Company was one of the largest meat packing companies in the United States, and never had a location in Ogden, or in Utah. William C. Parke & Co. of West Ogden, owned a large feed lot and packing house, and regularly sold wholesale dressed meat to Wilson & Company. The dressed meat was shipped in railroad refrigerator cars owned by Wilson & Co. in Los Angeles for resale in the Los Angeles market.) (Read more about Wilson & Company at the Encyclopedia of Chicago)

Bibliography

"Ogden - Gateway to the Intermountain West" Ogden Chamber of Commerce, 1930

"A Brief History Of The Ogden Stockyards", by Kenneth R. Knowles, circa 1972.

Mr. Knowles was the last Secretary-Treasurer of the Ogden Union Stock Yards Company at the time of its shut-down in January 1972. This four page monograph was obtained from Mrs. Kenneth (Doris) Knowles on July 16, 1996.

Kenneth R. (Roberton) Knowles was born on April 26, 1916. He worked at Ogden Union Stockyards for 36-1/2 years (from about 1936), until the stockyards closed in 1972. He was elected as Secretary-Treasurer of the stockyards company in late July 1961. After the stockyards closed in 1972, he worked for the Utah State Department of Agrculture for five years. Kenneth Knowles passed away on January 6, 1992 at age 75.

His brother, Charles Rowland Knowles, was born May 6, 1907 and worked for Ogden Union Stockyards beginning in 1933, starting out as a clerk. By 1949, Charles Knowles was traffic manager of the stockyards. By October 1956, he was manager of the stockyards company. At the time of his death on August 21, 1962, at age 55, he was vice president of Ogden Union Stockyards Company.

More Information

Historic American Landscapes Survey, Ogden Union Stock Yards (HALS UT-5), completed 2014 (14 drawings, one 45-page PDF with photos)

Ogden Packing & Provision -- Digital images of newspaper articles covering the history of the company; became American Packing & Provision in 1923, and Swift in 1949.

Ogden Union Stockyards -- Photos and digital images of newspaper articles covering the history of the company.

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