The McCook Packing plant

Friday, September 18, 2015

Susan Doak

Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society

McCook's biggest industry in the early 1950s was of all things, the McCook Packing Corporation. Located where the current McCook Transfer Station/Recycling Center and the adjoining land is now, the corporation combined meat packing and meat processing.

Beginning as the Chitwood Packing Company, then Glasers Provisions, the plant employed 135 workers, generating a monthly payroll of $20,000. Slaughtering around a thousand head of cattle every week, the meat was shipped all over the United States.

Because the packing plant operation created over 30,000 pounds of waste a day, the second phase of the operation was a rendering plant which turned out three major products: feed additives, hides, which were sold to leather manufacturers and grease, sold to soap factories.

Nat Romanoff was the manager then, and continued to be the manager until its closing. While most people in McCook only remember the rendering operation which operated after the demise of the packing corporation, at one time in our history, McCook Packing Corporation was a viable and valuable part of our community.

In a publication printed in 1957 for McCook's 75th anniversary, H. C. Clapp wrote a piece titled, "What prompted me to start the 'Store for Women' in McCook and sell higher style apparel?"

"Coming from Michigan, I naturally arrived on an early train wearing an overcoat, rubbers and carrying an umbrella. But I soon learned that the rubbers and umbrella would not be necessary out here in warm, dry, Nebraska, for I well remember that in the summer of 1902 we played baseball on the river bed of the Republican which was plenty dry and wide enough for a ball diamond and we were able to run bases over the hot sands of the river bed.

"This high altitude proved to be so beneficial to my health that after working in the Grannis store (Honest John's store in the 300 block of Norris), for three years I decided to make McCook my home and was offered the opportunity to open an exclusive dry goods store in the 25 by 50 foot store room in a building being erected by Mr. Pat Walsh on the corner of Main and C street in the year 1905.

"Mr. Walsh operated a very respectable saloon on the corner of this new building with no screens and no card tables - both of which were common equipment in the other six saloons operating in McCook at that time. My store was the south half of this new fifty-foot building and on the lot just south there was an old wooden building where Dave Magner had a small grocery and meat market. In 1907 Mr. Walsh replaced this old structure with the present attractive McCook National Bank building."

In 1926, the J.C. Penny Company leased from Mr. Clapp the building on the corner of C and Norris. J. C. Penny had prior to that operated out of a building on the west side of the 100 block of Norris Ave.

H.C. Clapp then sold out his stock and moved with his employees to a store front just south of the new McCook National bank operating under the name F. Johnson Co., a corporation which he had acquired in 1920. Twenty-two years later, he re-established the name H.C. Clapp Store for Women, selling the company to W.W. Lyons in 1951.

In my next installment, I will cover additional anchor businesses that made up the City of McCook during my childhood.

Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society's open library hours will be Saturday, Sept.19, 1-3 p.m., 110 West C, Suite M-3. We will also have a booth in the park during Heritage Days.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: