Gustavus Franklin Swift’s Refrigerator Car
Gustavus Franklin Swift’s Refrigerator Car


Gustavus Franklin Swift


Refrigerator Car


Completely disassembles material apart into usable components


Causes all meat products to freeze into clumps


Running on a train and opening the doors

Collected by

Warehouse 13







Date of Collection

May 25, 1934



Meet Gustavus Franklin Swift, meat mogul of the Midwest. Raised as a butcher’s boy, Swift was disheartened by all the inefficiencies involved with shipping livestock, mostly cattle. They required herding, large stock cars and slaughterhouses, which proved too costly as many died on the journey and most of the animal was not edible to begin with. So, he insisted on the crazy idea of shipping already butchered meat instead to his Chicago packing plant.

After several early designs and failed test runs, Swift found an engineer that could make a viable transport system. The meat would be stacked together in the center of a boxcar to prevent it from overturning, while ice would chill the meat on its route from the East Coast. When local butchers and railroads tried blocking his business, Swift just partnered up with a minor Canadian railroad to go around their blockade.

Under Swift’s control, nothing went to waste. All the normally unusable leftovers were turned into products like soap, fertilizer, buttons and medications. Ever the thrifty businessman, Swift owned as much of the production process as he could, from raising the cattle to sending them to butchers. His cost-cutting methods became an early example of vertical integration, a model companies such as Standard Oil and Carnegie Steel would use to become titans. Unfortunately, little public oversight allowed product quality to become unacceptable and contaminate the nearby waters with sludge. Muckraking, the first round of anti-trust laws, were pushed forward by Teddy Roosevelt himself.


Placing any item inside will strip it down to the bare pieces that can be used to manufacture singular products instead of becoming waste or inconsequential pieces. Once it gets going, it has a tendency to freeze all materials containing animal products and solidify into unusable globs. Applying pressure just causes it to crack apart and bubble away into putrid nothingness.

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