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   xoxoxoBruce  Friday Jun 10 12:00 AM

June 10th, 2016: Wheel of Squeel

To fulfill, and with money from, Civil War era Government contracts, the Chicago Stockyards pushed into industrializing the
process with gusto. Rudyard Kipling wrote "Once having seen them you will never forget the sight."
By 1890, Chicago meatpacking was the greatest concentration of labor and capital in the world. More than 25,000 men,
women, and children worked in this empire, processing l4 million animals a year. The two biggest, Armour and Swift, did
$200 million a year. ($5.2 Billion today)

A postcard from 1912...


The wheel of squeal. A live hog was attached to a giant wheel by a chain around one of its hind legs. When the wheel began to
rotate the hog was jerked into the air, upside down, squealing and kicking, and was carried by the movement of the wheel to an
overhead rail that ran the length of the building, on a descending angle, from the top to the bottom floor. Then the pig's throat
was cut and the carcass was cleaned, washed, and butchered by hundreds of hands as it passed along the overhead rail to the
cold storage area. The entire operation, from the killing wheel to the death locker, took less than ten minutes.
Wham bam thank you ma'am, efficient bacon.

Of course other livestock like cattle and sheep were handled differently, but with the same efficiency. French novelist, Paul Bourget
wrote, "We all agreed, that the first characteristic of this enterprise is the stupendousness of its conception." Bourget saw order
and vision as the key to American industrial supremacy, but surprised at how little depended on modern machinery.
Organization with a division of labor, not invention, explained efficiency.

A good site for American Industrial Supremacy, which I mention over here.



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