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1840 Porkopolis

Establishing a solid and consistent economic base was essential to the growth and success of Madison and for this purpose the lowly hog was chosen. The hog required no fencing, no feeding and no supervision. Running about the woods, as wild as the deer and bobcat he daily encountered, the hog was born, grew to adulthood and, finally, was rounded up and driven to the numerous packing houses in Madison. There he was quickly and efficiently dispensed into hams and hogsheads and shipped to the far corners of the world. Begun in the early days of settlement, hog production gained momentum through the 1830’s until, by the next decade, it was a major factor in Madison’s economy. Numerous slaughter houses received the porkers and processed them for shipment on the riverboats that lined the levee and when the railroad penetrated the interior of the country, pork was transported by rail. Brined and salted, pickled and smoked, the hog was a well traveled commodity and a major, dependable aspect of Madison’s economy. The Jenny Lind, Big Hoosier, Mammoth Cave and many other houses produced millions of pounds of pork yearly to feed an expanding population, rivaling even Cincinnati, which was the premier pork producer in the country. The wealth, prestige and political power gained from hog production and processing was immense and it was all built upon the back of the unfortunate but oh, so tasty, hog.

MJCPL: History of Jefferson County, Ind. By E. O. Muncie
MJCPL: Historical Files