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Waterloo’s Meat Packing Industry

Meat Packing in Iowa

Because of improved transportation, many industries developed in Iowa after 1870. Cities grew and factories were built. Iowa’s industries needed people to work in factories. As more people came to the state, more jobs were created. Then railroads expanded and more industries came to Iowa. One industry led to another.

Rath Packing Company Employees in 1894

Meat packing was one of the new industries. By 1870, all of the major Iowa cities along the Mississippi River had meat packing plants. Why did they develop in the river cities?

Meat packing factories developed along the Mississippi River because this location provided transportation for the finished meat products. The river provided water for the production process. And there were many farmers nearby who raised hogs to sell to the markets. People who wanted to work in factories also lived in the river cities. As the state developed, meat packing factories appeared in other cities. In 1871, the Sinclair Meat Packing Company was started in Cedar Rapids. In 1878, the John Morrell meat-packing plant was built in Ottumwa.


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