THREE QUARTERS of a CENTURY of PROGRESS
Progress of Manufacturing in Sioux City
From a water power cereal mill to several hundred
SIOUX CITY did not become a manufacturing center over night. No one thing such as the automobile, flour or anything else is responsible for the growth of the city. In other words, Sioux City just grew into a manufacturing city by the laws of nature. To begin with the city had a location, and with this there grew up a demand for articles that could be more easily and cheaply manufactured here than elsewhere. Hence we began to have factories which were expanded and added to untilnow there are products manufactured annually to a value of over $100,000,000.
The year 1867 marks the humble beginning of what is today the great manufacturing business which we have in Sioux City. In that year the Exchange Mills was established on the location of the present Martens & Ketels Milling Co. It was a small water power plant grinding out a few barrels of flour a day. Up to this time the settlers with business inclination had been content with trading or with retailing. Now, however, there grew visions of manufacturing. The country around was rich in products of the farm. There was the raw material. These people on the farms offered a market for the finished products. Here was raw material and here was the market. Is it strange that manufacturing should become an important business in this progressive little city?
Sioux City's greatest industry, live stock and packing, had its origin a few years later, in 1872. This will be told about in more detail in a later chapter. From this time on the factories began to spring up. More flour mills appeared, more packing plants, a few foundries, woodworking plants, plants which turned out agricultural equipment and others until by the beginning of 1900 there were over a hundred plants of varying despcription. In 1880 the manufacturing and jobbing combined was about $8,000,000. By 1900 this had grown to about $15,000,000 and in 1922 this had grown to over $100,000,000.
To know the importance of Sioux City and its growth it is necessary to know the growth and development of the upper Missouri, which is known as the northwest agricultural country. It is truly the "Breadbasket of the World," as someone has called it. This territory de-
manded a great variety of products. In those early days when transportation was the most difficult problem in developing the land, the difference in the distance of Sioux City and the eastern cities was important, and hence the settlers were only too glad to get what they could in Sioux City. This is only another example to show that Sioux City was not at any time in its history a local cityrather did it belong to that great stretch of rich, fertile, prosperous territory extending along both sides of the Missouri north of Sioux City. The city was built for the territory and has since been a part of the territory.
The Chesterman Company started in business in Sioux City in 1885, Haskins Bros. Soap Company came in 1887, the forerunners of the Curtis Sash and Door Company and of the Mystic Mills came a few years later. The invention of the cream separator in the nineties perhaps had a greater effect upon Sioux City than any other one invention of that period. This invention was the foundation on which Sioux City has built one of the world's greatest butter and ice cream markets. Previous to this period all butter had been made on the farms. Now, however, A. S. Hanford saw a new vision, and upon it built the first creamery plant in Sioux City, which later became the largest in the world. Other butter factories came and farmers began to see the value of dairying, to the extent that more cream was gradually produced. In 1922 the three large creameries made and shipped to all parts of the country over 27,000,000 pounds of the finest butter in the world.
The first plant of the Sioux City Brick and Tile Company was opened in 1887. That was the beginning of an industry that was to put Sioux City to the front as the largest brick center west of Chicago. Other brick plants came later. Following in the wake of these came tile plants, concrete block plants and other building material manufacturers, until the city became recognized as the center of building activities for the territory which it was serving. It was only natural then that architects, engineers and contractors should locate in the building center. All of these points are to show how an invention or a discovery of a source of raw material can have so great effect upon the future prosperity of a city.
But with all this, Sioux City differed from other industrial centers. When we think of that name-industrial centerour minds go back to the old style manufacturing cities which still exist in the east, where one article is made in dozens of plants. When the price of that one article goes down or the demand for it lessens, there is suffering and misery endured by the thousands who are thrown out of work. With the West has grown up the type of industrial cities of which Sioux City is an example. There are no killing occupations; there are no slums where misery, poverty and sickness runs wild; there are no twelve or fourteen-hour days in dark, dingy lofts. Instead we have the hundreds of modern, sanitary, daylight factories.
The workers for the most part own their own homes, or at least live in individual homes where light, fresh air and pleasant surroundings are not strangers.
What does Sioux City make? The story of this would make a book larger than this one. At least three hundred distinct articles are made in a great variety of styles, sizes and flavors. A complete catalog of these products would do credit in size to a modern mail order house's catalog. With the giant packing plants it is only natural that they should lead in the value of manufactured products. Last year these products were valued at over $61,000,000 and were sold to all parts of the world. Following these in value were the dairy products, which include butter, ice cream and others made from the milk and cream of the dairy farmsthese reached a value of $19,002,000 last year and placed Sioux City far towards the front as a dairy products manufacturing center.
Automotive equipment including trucks, tractors, tops, radiators, valve grinding tools, piston rings, truck bodies, tires and other accessories are numbered among the products which reach a large volume during the course of a year. Building materials, soap, cigars, work clothing, furs, robes, furniture, candy, crackers, bakery products, printing, serums, tents, awnings, flour and furnaces are among some of the leading products. More will be said about some of these later in other chapters, but the half can never be told in so small a volume.
Thus has this valley where seventy-five years ago the
plowshare had never touched the land along the streams where the Indians
hunted, fished and bathed their dusky bodies all unconscious of the
future, become a manufacturing center whose products are used in every
home and in every farm in many great states. Some of these go into the
homes of people living in far away countries of the globe, spreading
the name of Sioux City and of the great West. Sioux City leads Iowa
as a manufacturing center and stands out as one of the sixty-five great
factory centers of America.
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