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Swift & Company | by Noel Kerns
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Swift & Company

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I finally made it into the old Swift Meat Packing complex at the Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. I've wanted to shoot this site for months now, but timing, security issues, and unreturned phone calls had thwarted my intentions at every turn. I basically gave up trying to contact the proper authorities for permission and just infiltrated the site last night. There is currently security personnel onsite 24/7, as part of the complex is being used to shoot the Fox TV show "Prison Break", so stealth and caution were required to navigate the property, fire off strobes, and use flashlights without being discovered. I was onsite for about 3 hours; this was the first shot I took.

 

The Armour & Swift Meat Packing Complex was established in 1902; Armour & Co. at the north end of the complex and Swift & Co. at the south. Livestock business boomed in the area at that time, so much so that by 1907 an arena was built (in only 3 months) to host the annual "Feeders and Breeders" show. That same arena, now known as the Cowtown Coliseum, also hosted many other events through the years, including the first ever indoor rodeo. In 1911, the area around the meat packing plants was chartered as a separate town called Niles City, named after Louville V. Niles, one of the initial co-investors in stockyards.

 

The rise of the trucking industry after World War II, with its greater flexibility and lower operating costs, is largely credited with the decline of the stockyards. Armour closed its plant in 1962, and Swift followed suit 9 years later, in 1971. Amazingly, these old ruins have sat decaying in the middle of Fort Worth ever since. This huge complex is truly a ghost town within a city.

 

Night, almost full moon, lots of ambient mercury & sodium vapor light. 30 second exposure @ ISO 200.

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Taken on February 18, 2008