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Chase's design proved to be a practical solution, providing temperature-controlled carriage of dressed meats, This allowed Swift and Company to ship their products across the United States and internationally.Swift's attempts to sell Chase's design to major railroads were rebuffed, as the companies feared that they would jeopardize their considerable investments in stock cars, animal pens, and feedlots if refrigerated meat transport gained wide acceptance.The first consignment of dressed beef left the Chicago stock yards in 1857 in ordinary boxcars retrofitted with bins filled with ice.Placing meat directly against ice resulted in discoloration and affected the taste, proving to be impractical.Costly inefficiencies were inherent in transporting live animals by rail, particularly the fact that about sixty percent of the animal's mass is inedible.The death of animals weakened by the long drive further increased the per-unit shipping cost.During the same period Swift experimented by moving cut meat using a string of ten boxcars with their doors removed, and made a few test shipments to New York during the winter months over the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR). The interior of a typical ice-bunker reefer from the 1920s.
The use of ice to refrigerate and preserve food dates back to prehistoric times.Edwin Tobias Earl was born on a fruit ranch near Red Bluff, California on May 30, 1858. In 1890, he invented the refrigerator car to transport fruits to the East Coast of the United States.His father was Joseph Earl and his mother, Adelia Chaffee. He established the Continental Fruit Express and invested US,000,000 in refrigerator cars.In response, Swift financed the initial production run on his own, then — when the American roads refused his business — he contracted with the GTR (a railroad that derived little income from transporting live cattle) to haul the cars into Michigan and then eastward through Canada.In 1880 the Peninsular Car Company (subsequently purchased by ACF) delivered the first of these units to Swift, and the Swift Refrigerator Line (SRL) was created.
By 1920, the SRL owned and operated 7,000 of the ice-cooled rail cars.