Downtown St. Louis, Missouri and the Gateway Arch are easily visible from the roof. I believe we were spotted on the roof by a passer-by in a stopped pickup truck. Drew and I decided to get out of there ASAP.
International Harvester sold home appliances briefly between 1947 and 1955, which makes this refrigerator a rare find. IH sold their appliance division to Whirlpool in 1955. This means that this refrigerator was purchased and placed in the Armour plant very late in its productive life.
This platform is perhaps 20 feet above the slaughtering floor. I dared not to venture out onto the aged wooden platform. The stairwell climb up was incredibly steep.
Armour transported the live animals to be slaughtered to the very top of the factory. The animals were immediately slaughtered, divided up, and sent through an elaborate network of transportation tubes throughout the plant. Various rooms throughout the plant appear to have a specific purpose, but are all connected via tubes, elevators, or cranes. This would also explain why the large refrigeration generators are at the base of the factory next to where the rail lines are.
Drew and I made our way to the top of a rickety steel stairwell platform in the Armour plant. He then told me to turn around slowly. When I did, we were face to face with a wild owl. Drew calmly descended the stairs while I remained frozen in place.
My heart was racing as I slowly adjusted my camera to take this photo. This is what urbex is all about. There is always an inherent danger, but there is also the thrill of never knowing what you will discover. This owl was absolutely magnificent. I feel as though this photo does not do justice to its scale though. It was quite a large bird.
Car maker Henry Ford often gets credited with developing the modern assembly line. The fundamental idea of an assembly line is to compartmentalize labor into highly specific tasks to increase output while minimizing cost. Workers need not be highly skilled or trained, they just need to be able to repeat a single task.
As with many great inventions Ford built on the work of his predecessors. Chicago industrialist Philip Armour revolutionized the meat packing industry by compartmentalizing labor in his factories long before Ford. Armour was in fact notorious for his implementation of unskilled labor. He intentionally pitted worker demographics against each other with the purpose of keeping labor costs low. In the early days Armour factories were dangerous places and the workers were prevented from joining a union.
Armour and another local meat packing company called Swift led the market in using refrigeration to decrease cost. In the days before refrigeration meat spoiled very quickly. Shipping live cattle by rail to local butchers was a costly enterprise that the railroad companies profited greatly from. Armour and Swift began shipping their cuts of processed meat in refrigerated cars, which vastly expanded their markets to the every corner of the nation.
The photo above shows one of the massive refrigeration units used. The side of the machine says that they were produced in 1902 by De La Vergne Refrigerating Machine Company, New York. There are two units currently residing at this Armour plant, though I believe there may have been three. The concrete floor has divisions for a missing unit.
Just to the north of East St. Louis in National City is a very large abandoned meat processing plant. Armour and Company are perhaps best known for developing Dial soap, but they were primarily a slaughterhouse company. This meat processing plant was built in 1928 and ceased operations in 1959.
The Armour and Dial brands continue to exist, though these properties are now held by new owners.