Lard Department at Valley Packing Company, Salem, Oregon
In 1919 two of Salem's leading meat processors joined to establish the Valley Packing Company. Curtis B. Cross was the first president. His grandfather had emigrated from England to found the area's first packing plant in the early 1850's, and Curtis took over the business from his father in 1907. Their slaughterhouse was on the west side of 25th Street just south of present day Mission Street. The retail market was on the south side of State Street just east of the alley behind Ladd & Bush Bank. The vice-president of the new company was Fred W. Steusloff who came to Salem in 1892 and purchased half-interest in a market at 284 N. Commercial Street with a slaughterhouse just south of the Cross's on 25th Street. His brother, William H., came from Omaha in 1898 and joined Fred to form Steusloff Brothers Meats. In 1902 they opened a new market at 399 Court (NW corner of Liberty) . These three pioneer business men each subscribed one-quarter stock interest in the new company with the remaining quarter being underwritten by Salem banker, A.N. Bush. The modern, 4-floor concrete building was located on 55 acres just west of the Southern Pacific Railway crossing of Portland Road near the North Salem city limits. Opened in early 1920, it was the only U.S. Inspected full-line meat processing plant in the state outside of Portland. In 1933 a commercial photographer was hired to document most of the operations and employees of the company. These photos were mounted and prominently displayed on the main office wall where customers and farmers could appreciate the diversity of one of the northwest's largest meat processing plants. This photo was taken in the Lard Department, managed by Ralph Johnson, where pork fat was rendered (cooked and refined) and then drawn off into storage tanks. This photo is from the Valley Packing Company Collection with information provided by Douglas Chambers, who worked in nearly every department in the family's business.
Valley Packing Company; Salem, Oregon; Lard Department