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Ray Watson, photographer. Ray Watson Collection S Commercial canning and the rise of the fruit industry in Northwest Arkansas began soon after the arrival of the Frisco Railroad in The Springdale Canning Company is believed to have been the first commercial cannery in the area.
It was organized by Judge Millard Berry and other investors in At its peak it processed 10, cans daily. At first workers made the cans themselves. The cans were boiled to cook the food and kill harmful bacteria. Tomatoes, peaches, and apples were the first to be commercially canned, as their natural acidity helped prevent the growth of the botulinum bacteria, which causes food poisoning. Still, there was a high rate of spoilage in the early years of canning. Advances in technology and food science made possible the canning of non-acidic vegetables like spinach and green beans.
In the following decades numerous canneries were established, promoted in part by the railro, which profited from freight fees charged for shipping canning supplies and finished products. From small canning sheds on the family farm to large industrial plants, canning proved to be a money-making business. To maximize their profits, a few canneries used poor-quality produce or filled their cans mostly with water. Some canneries provided farmers with seed and fertilizer, the cost of which would be deducted from the payment for their produce. Poke greens and spinach were the first to be packed in the spring, followed by green beans and tomatoes during the summer and turnip greens in the fall.
It took fourteen tons 28, pounds of spinach to fill the cans needed to pack one railroad boxcar. By April the Nelson Canning Company of Springdale had already shipped thirty boxcars of spinach and was expecting more tons of fresh spinach in May. At the canning plant, women prepared the fruits and vegetables for processing and filled the cans. Men worked the heavier, more labor-intensive jobs such as operating the machinery and cooking the canned foods. The more buckets processed, the more money received. Even at a few cents per bucket, any extra income was helpful.
Small canneries canned under their own brand or under a national label such as Del Monte, or sold their product to brokers for resale to food distributors. Increasing mechanization of the canning process helped canneries become more competative. Additional railroad lines and newly built highways meant that produce grown outside the area could be brought in for processing, and canned goods could be shipped nationwide. Steele, went to feed the troops. Stricter food safety guidelines, rising production and labor costs, and economic hardships such as drought, the Great Depression, and World War II eventually forced many small canneries out of business.
But the large canneries found ways to prosper and diversify. New products like frozen cobblers, shoestring potatoes, and other types of convenience foods were introduced to meet changing consumer needs. As the food-processing business continued to evolve, large companies bought out mid-size Tall thin Springdale Arkansas male looking for fun, which were struggling to keep up with increased costs and evolving food trends.
By the early s Allens, Inc. During the s it purchased several food processing plants in neighboring states, leading it to become, at the time, the largest independent food processor in the nation. It added dozens of new products to its lineup to maintain diversity. Allens used state-of-the-art equipment to detect blemished produce and run its many plants efficiently.
These modern industrial plants are a far cry from the days when neighbors gathered together every summer in a small canning shed to peel scalding-hot tomatoes and lower heavy baskets of canned goods into cauldrons of boiling water.
The company that once was Allens was bought three times in a few short years before going out of business in Two hundred thirty workers lost their jobs. Springdale Canning Company, looking northeast towards the intersection of Huntsville Road and the Frisco Railroad tracks, Springdale, about Speece and Allen, photographers. Bobbie Byars Lynch Collection S Organized by Judge Millard Berry and others inSpringdale Canning Company is believed to have been the first commercial cannery in Northwest Arkansas.
It closed in The building was used by another cannery before becoming an ice plant.
It was torn down in They employ over people during their busy season—summer and fall. Fifty cents a bushel was paid for peas in the hull and 20 cents per bushel for tomatoes. One bushel of peas in hull makes 13 pound cans. Three hands are now hired making cans. Four hands can Tall thin Springdale Arkansas male looking for fun out nearly cans a day. With three or four weeks experience, a country boy can make cans per day—making a dollar.
Helen Cook Collection S In a group of people in and around Prairie Grove agreed to give C. In the factory became the Kelly Canning Company. As fewer local farmers grew tomatoes the company had to ship tomatoes into the area for canning. The rising cost of shipping ended the business in Peelers received three cents per bucket of peeled tomatoes. The buckets were made of red easily cleaned fiber. The tomato garbage slop was hauled away by wagon and team, some of it being fed to the hogs. The entire factory crew ed at the checker case. Miss Effie Bain was first checker of the peeled tomatoes.
They were canned in No. Joanne Paisley Collection S At its peak, the plant could process four million cases of juice-related products yearly. The plant closed in as Welch consolidated its many operations. Here the grapes are separated from the stems and dropped though aluminum pipes to aluminum stirring kettles.
The kettles heat the grapes and the juice is extracted by hydraulic presses. The juice flows into heating kettles and from there goes to five-gallon glass carboys [bottles] in which it is stored in different cellars. Pettigrew Canning Company workers, Pettigrew, late s—early s. Oleta Bryant Collection S The cannery was a welcome source of income during the Great Depression, at a time when the local timber industry was slowing down. Basically women did the processing and men ran the heavy equipment. Every time a woman finished peeling a bucket of tomatoes, somebody would bring her another bucket and punch a ticket to show how many buckets she had peeled.
My mother [Elva Barker Martin] was very fast with her hands, so she worked at the packing vat. She put a lump of salt in a can with the tomatoes and sent it down to the capper, where the can was sealed. Morsani Canning Company, Tontitown, s. Edna Zulpo Collection S I worked out on a farm, I picked cowpeas. We would get maybe half a cent per pound.
Frank and Carrie Perona had a canning factory [in Tontitown]. The cannery was just seasonal, but I worked most of the year for them. I did everything in that cannery. I fired the boilers. I cooked the food in the retorts. I hauled all the way to Fort Smith and Oklahoma City. The banks would then contract with local businessmen to buy the canning equipment. This would include the racks, trays, boilers, etc. The local businessmen would then contract with area farmers to grow tomatoes and guaranteed them a buyer for their crop. The bank would also advance money to the farmers.
Tomato pickers, Northwest Arkansas, Rutgers was introduced in and boasted thick, fleshy outer and inner walls with few seeds—perfect for canning. Farmers often received seed and fertilizer from the canneries, the cost of which was deducted from the purchase price of the crop. Crates of tomatoes were stacked high all over. We all remember wagon lo of tomatoes leaving a trail of juice in the dust along the graded part of the road leading to Pettigrew [and its cannery].
A wagon load of tomatoes is a very heavy load for a team of horses to pull up hill. On the steepest part of a mountain they could only pull a short distance before resting. The horses would be wet with sweat and gasping for air in the summer heat. I felt sympathy for them, feeling they paid a high price in life for the little they got in return.
Tracy Barrett Collection S For several harvest seasons this went full bore, giving the farmers a ready market and providing many temporary jobs as he filled one boxcar after another with canned tomatoes. Larrick, photographer. Lloyd Warren Collection S Owned by Burtis A. The cannery closed in when the Federal government bought exhausted, eroded farmland for the construction of Lake Wedington.
There were few viable fields left for growing vegetables. All that remain today are some cement columns. Boys of the area used the cement water tank. Valley Canning Company display, Hindsville, s. Willie Bohannan Collection S In at least two libel suits were filed against the Valley Canning Company cannery in Hindsville Madison Countyalleging its string beans failed to meet Federal food production standards.
The U. Adulteration of the article was alleged in the libels for the reason that a substance, excess water, had been mixed and packed therewith so as to reduce, lower, and injuriously affect its quality and had been substituted wholly or in part for the said article [string beans]. Adulteration for the further reason that the article consisted in whole or in part of a filthy, decomposed, and putrid vegetable substance.
Steele, Springdale, September 25, William McIntosh, photographer. Philip Steele Collection S The above photo shows the first complete trainload of canned vegetables ever shipped by one canning factory owner in Springdale, and perhaps the first such shipment from Northwest Arkansas.
Cannery co-owner Joe Steele was thirty-two years old at the time and owned or co-owned five canneries. Steele stated that orders enough to fill the 24 cars. The cans were filled with. The Springdale plant processed 3, cases of beans in ten hours and three of the factories, which can spinach, processed 8, cases per day, the latter meaning the same as two and a half cars of empty cans. Alonzo Roberts turning green beans to keep them from overheating while awaiting processing for U.
Howard Clark, photographer. Caroline Price Clark Collection STall thin Springdale Arkansas male looking for fun
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