History Nebraska Blog

Rare Pictures of Omaha Stockyards

In one decade, the South Omaha stockyards went from a single farm to a major meat center. The 1880s were a time of explosive growth for South Omaha, yet surprisingly few photographs document its expansion. In the Winter 2013 issue of Nebraska History, historian John Carter presents a photographic essay of photos that do remain, showing the birth of a huge industry.

Omaha was an ideal location for a stockyard. It had plenty of grass and corn, as well as the Missouri River and the railroad. And for ranchers who were driving their cattle north from Texas, Omaha was five hundred miles closer than Chicago. In 1883 rancher Alexander Swan assembled investors to turn Omaha’s stockyard potential into a reality. These and other photos in the article are the earliest known images of the South Omaha stockyards.

All the intense work that went in to building the stockyards paid off for investors. By 1956 Omaha was the largest meat producing city in the world, due to the enterprise of the South Omaha stockyards.

- Joy Carey, Editorial Assistant, Publications

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