Hometown Farmer - Sioux City's agriculture history

Hometown Farmer - Sioux City's agriculture history

"A city like Sioux City would not have been built here without a foundation like agriculture," said Tom Munson, an Archives Manager with the Sioux City Public Museum.

In a nutshell, that's Sioux City's story.

Agriculture got big here, not long after the city was founded in the mid-1850's.

Grain mills popped up pretty quickly afterwards.

"There are five grain mills in Sioux City, dating all the way back to 1859," said Munson.

In the 1890's, the Sioux City area had some of the best corn yields around, too.

"Thirty-eight bushels per acre," said Munson, with a smile.

And what better way to show if off, than with a corn palace or five?

They started popping up every year, beginning in 1887.

"Something like 150,00 people come to that first corn palace festival, which is only a week long," said Munson.

Agriculture wasn't the only thing on display in those grain palaces.

Visitors could check out new technology, too, like electricity.

"Which is a really good idea when you figure out how previous palaces may have been lit, which would've been out of coal gas and with open flames," said Munson. "Can you imagine open flames in a building that's made of a wood frame and corn?"

There are other milestones, too, like the stockyards, of course.

"Throughout that era we were anywhere between number ten and number one in hog receipts in the 1970s," said Munson.

Meat-packing plants have always been big in Siouxland, as well.

At the museum, you can always check out the "Frankie" hot dog outfit display.

"I could see that going in a parade," said Munson, pointing to the life-sized hot dog.

Plus, when you poke around the museum, you'll see tidbits you might never have guessed.

"Sioux City had one of the largest, actually *did* have the largest butter creamery in the United States in the 1920's: Hanford Produce," said Munson. "Who knows that?"

It's not all in the past, either.

Munson says agriculture has a big future in Sioux City.

The meat-packing industry is a good example of that.

"They're actually slaughtering more animals that were ever done at the old-style meat packing plants," said Munson.

If you want to visit the museum, you can find out more information at: siouxcitymuseum.org.

If you think of a farmer you'd like to see on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at: jheller@siouxlandnews.com.

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