A few years ago, several Roundtable members attended the Hammond, Indiana Historical Society’s cemetery tour. At the grave of Marcus Towle, we learned he opened a slaughterhouse with his partner George Hammond in 1869. Hammond was credited with inventing the refrigerated rail car for conveying fresh meat and the refrigerated storage room. The entire presentation was a déjà vu moment because the story paralleled that of Gustavus Swift. While Swift made his initial foray into refrigerated rail cars in 1877, Hammond had conceived this idea in 1869. Swift expanded his business to Chicago in 1875 having commenced his cattle wholesale dealer business in 1872.
Chicago was the center of the cattle trade in the United States. It was a railroad hub serving all regions of the country and was close to the Great Plains. Its South Side rail yards were the site of the famous Chicago Stockyards, where cattle were penned before shipment elsewhere. Hammond, Indiana just over the state line shared these same geographic and transportation qualities. Maybe this story would be better known today if a fire hadn’t destroyed the Hammond Packing House leaving 1,800 workers unemployed in 1901.
If it were not for a flip of a coin, Hammond, Indiana may well have been named Hohman. Historian Richard Lytle of the Hammond Public Library and Hammond Historical Society will reveal history of these forgotten pioneers: George H. Hammond and Marcus M. Towle These two pioneers preceded both Armour and Swift in refrigerated storage and rail transportation.
Program hosted at Kendall College.