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Chimney Park (De Mores Packing Plant)
The packing plant was the creation of a visionary entrepreneur, the Marquis de Morès. He believed that ranchers in Dakota Territory could economically compete with the operations of eastern packers if the animals were slaughtered and processed close to their range. The carcasses would then be shipped by refrigerated railroad car to consumers in the East. Over time the marquis and his family were pivotal in establishing the fledgling frontier cow town that he named for his wife, Medora von Hoffman. In April 1883, the marquis arrived at this tiny Dakota Territory settlement and established his meatpacking plant near the railroad and the east bank of the Little Missouri River. The plant included an abattoir, cooper shop, fertilizer room, three icehouses, cooling and storage building, a loading platform, and cattle holding pens. In addition, the marquis raised cattle on fifteen thousand acres of unfenced, free-range land. The plant was expected to process one hundred and fifty cattle a day, but eastern consumers seemed to prefer corn-fed beef to the tougher range-fed beef. The plant was forced to close in 1886. The other de Morès enterprises also declined with the closing of the packing plant, and the marquis and his family left North Dakota prior to the disastrous winter of 1886–1887, which nearly put an end to the area’s cattle business. The packing plant was destroyed by fire in 1907. In 1936, the site was acquired by the State Historical Society. Today the packing plant is interpreted through the ruins of a tall brick chimney, sandstone and brick foundations that supported the main part of the slaughterhouse, engine mountings from the powerhouse, and an old boiler.
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