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Then and Now photos: Armour and Co. packing plant

Philip Danforth Armour, born in 1832 in upstate New York, was an industrious young man who started a meat packing business with his brother Joseph at Chicago’s Union Stockyards in 1867. Armour designed an efficient assembly line for slaughtering animals and built a large fleet of refrigerated rail cars. He tried to use every part of the animal and sold byproducts for glue, cosmetics, medicines and fertilizer. Armour and Co. quietly bought up shares of Spokane’s E.H. Stanton meat packing plant at 3300 East Trent Ave. and took over in 1917, quickly building it into one of Spokane’s largest businesses. It sat along rail lines and near stockyards that supplied its production line. Armour’s business boomed during World War II, and FDR issued an executive order placing Armour’s assets, including the Spokane plant, under federal control to put down labor disputes and strikes during wartime. The Spokesman-Review reported that government food purchases filled 75 to 80 railcars a week during the war. Armour made soap animal byproducts and invented Dial soap in 1948. It was an immediate hit. Armour expanded the Dial line, and Dale Carnegie, based in Omaha, Neb., became the company’s most famous salesman. Business slowed after the war. The Greyhound bus company acquired Armour/Dial in 1970 and reorganized the company, closing the Spokane plant. It was torn down in 1979. Armour died in 1901 but was known for encouraging the children at the free trade school he built in Chicago: “Always keep at it. Don’t let up. Let liquor alone, pay your bills, marry a good wife and pound away at whatever you want – and sooner or later you’ll make good.” – Jesse Tinsley


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