Created By: Old Cowtown Museum
The Meat Market located in the Business District of Old Cowtown Museum represents the diversification of local markets in Wichita, Kansas during the 1870s. Nineteenth century Americans consumed great amounts of meat. Nearly every meal included beef, pork, poultry, or fish. Imported specialty items such as oysters and other seafood were commonly found on local bills of fare.
Professional hunting was a vital business in early Wichita. Hunters supplied local meat markets with wild game, and sent great quantities of meat to eastern markets and restaurants. Game animals included buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, and game birds such as ducks and geese. Fish caught by nets in the Arkansas River were also a staple of meat markets in Wichita. Wild and domestic meats were shipped from Wichita to eastern markets in special insulated railroad cars cooled with blocks of ice. Oysters were shipped from the East to Wichita on express trains that traveled 4-5 days. Oysters were packed in barrels bewteen layers of ice and straw. The top layer might be a bit suspicious but the rest arrived alive and edible.
The vast herds of buffalo, wild game, and flocks eventually became depleted and their habitat became occupied by farms and towns. People relied more and more on the domesticated animals that came from the growing agrarian economy of Sedgwick County.
Items in the photographs
Cheese and Sausage on counter with cheese wheel on a cheese knife
Ice plow for scoring ice in consistent patterns before the ice was cut into blocks, moved to ice houses until needed for refrigeration
Oyster Barrel - Victorians were oyster crazy. In the months with "R" they could be shipped by express train from the east coast in 4 days. Packed in barrels in layers of ice, straw, oyster (Repeat) they arrived quite aliive and edible.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour