Drawing of the Booge Packing Plant
Date: c. 1890
Description: This print depicts The Booge Packing Company as it looked in 1888. James E. Booge began his career in Sioux City as a wholesale grocer in the 1860s. One day he purchased a load of wheat salvaged off a sunken ship and fed it to hogs. He then butchered them, and sold the meat for profit. Eventually his practice grew into a full-scale meatpacking house, the first of its kind in Sioux City. Booge Packing Company’s first plant was built in 1873 at present day 5th and Water Streets. Early processing capabilities were limited: Booge only handled pork, and the plant could process about 12 hogs per day. Booge moved his operations to the South Bottoms area at the mouth of the Floyd River in 1880, and soon he had neighbors as other meatpackers moved into the area. When the Sioux City Stock Yards began in the late 1880s, more and more meatpacking houses opened up around their pens. The Livestock Exchange was built and a bank incorporated to increase business interests for meatpackers and commission agents. Booge could not compete with the new competition moving in and closed in 1891. The plant was purchased by the Sioux City Stock Yards Company and converted into their own plant, Sioux City Packing Company.
Many of the early packing houses like Booge faced severe financial difficulties with the Panic of 1893. The devastating flood in 1892 also put the early stockyards and meatpacking houses under severe strain. Many meatpackers and smaller stockyard companies were forced to close, and even the Sioux City Stock Yards Company was near bankruptcy until reorganized by Fred Eaton. With the stockyards running efficiently new meatpackers opened and soon the meat industry became an indispensable part of Sioux City’s economy.
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