1903 Photograph depicts “[r]epresentatives of the…South Omaha Live Stock Exchange,” a rival to the great Chicago stockyard and meatpacking industry
The Union Stockyards of South Omaha, Nebraska were founded in 1883 and soon became a rival to the great Chicago stockyard and meatpacking industry. This September 1903 photograph depicting “[r]epresentatives of the Commercial Club and South Omaha Live Stock Exchange” possibly commemorates an excursion made to celebrate the livestock exchange’s twentieth anniversary.
The group is posed on a hillside together with a musical band and two liveried black waiters. Most of the men are wearing pins and parade badges; the two black waiters wear numerous badges, possibly indicating that they too worked for the livestock exchange and were not just hired servants. Their very inclusion in the photograph suggests the same possibility.
Several of the men (there are no women here) hold signs, banners, and company themed umbrellas, e.g.meatpackers Swift & Co. Fittingly, one man holds aloft a large statue of a fierce-looking fattened pig ready for the slaughter. Prominent among the signs is a large fringed banner for the “South Omaha Live Stock Exchange” and a placard that declares “South Omaha, the Second Market of the World,” an acknowledgement of their Chicago rivals.
A caption on the back of the photograph notes that the group’s excursion was made by taking railroad cars (presumably to suitable picnic grounds) on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (“C.R.I. & P. Ry.”). That railroad line traveled through South Omaha and transported cattle, pigs, and sheep to be slaughtered and processed into meat and other food products.
The caption on the back of the photo makes reference to a handwritten arrow within the image: “J.L.P. under white umbrella in back row.”
This is a fantastic image. With casual magnification upon numerous places in the image, rich details emerge and surprise.
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