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Made in Chicago: The Refrigerated Rail Car previous 6 of 18 next


The Refrigerated Rail Car Cattle dealer Gustavus Swift had problems delivering his live merchandise to Eastern butchers. So he took an enormous risk, deciding he'd slaughter the cattle in Chicago and ship only the edible parts, chilled.

Refrigeration technology was primitive, but in 1878 Swift commissioned engineer Andrew Chase to design a refrigerated railroad car. Air circulated over ice in refillable bins at the top of the car. As it cooled and became heavier, the air dropped down into the compartment, forcing warmer, lighter air out through ventilators and keeping the compartment cold. Refrigeration allowed Swift to sell his product internationally, transforming the meat business.

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