DID YOU KNOW?
• The Ogden Union Stockyards were established in 1917 and operated until 1971.
• The Exchange Building opened in 1931 to provide offices for the stockyards. The building was designed by architect Leslie Hodgson and is one of the first major Art Deco buildings that Hodgson designed in Ogden.
• In 1945, 1.8 million sheep, 300,000 cattle and 350,000 hogs passed through the stockyards.
• In 1949, the stockyards had its highest revenue of $87 million.
• The stockyards were used for providing livestock to the adjacent packing plants, resting livestock being transported by train to other destinations, and for livestock sales and shows.
PRESERVING A RICH HISTORY
Because the Ogden Union Stockyards are such an important part of our community's history, the redevelopment of the site will include efforts to preserve the site's history and incorporate historic elements into the design of the Ogden Business Exchange.
Weber State University's Stewart Library, with the help of public history students, collected oral histories, historic photos, and archival documents. An online exhibit contains the results of this effort, available in the Ogden Stockyards digital collection. The remains of the stockyards were carefully documented and researched before redevelopment work began. Additionally, the historic Exchange Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The iconic Exchange Building, once home to the stockyard offices, will be fully restored as a centerpiece of the business park and a connection to the site's rich history. Office space will once again be available in the building. The grand lobby will be a public space with exhibits on the stockyards' history.
Elsewhere on the site, historic elements will preserved and incorporated into the final design of the business park. Concrete loading platforms once used to load sheep and cattle onto rail cars will be preserved, along with sections of stamped concrete and watering troughs. Interpretive signage will be installed to share the history of the site with business park users and the general public.
The Ogden Business Exchange is located on the site of the former Ogden Union Stockyards, which was once one of the largest livestock yards in the West. The stockyards began operation west of the Weber River in 1917, and expanded along with Utah’s growing livestock industry and livestock shipping by railroads. The Ogden Livestock Show was organized in 1918 as a new auctioning center for the livestock producers and cattle brokers to promote the industry and improve herds.
The sprawling stockyards served both the railroads and the meat packing industry. In addition to handling and processing beef, Ogden developed into the “sheep center of the west” and later became home to the largest lamb slaughtering industry in the nation. The peak years for sheep sales at the Ogden Union Stockyards were between 1936-1944. The facility saw its highest revenue of $87 million in 1949. When meat packers began buying directly from producers in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the profits of the middlemen in the stockyards and cattle broker businesses began to decline.
Direct sales and the rise of livestock trucking continued to erode livestock traffic and profits at the Ogden Union Stockyards. While the ratios between sheep, cattle and hogs stayed the same, the volume changed from the 1945 peak of 2.4 million head to 594,000 head in 1960.
The Ogden Union Stockyards complex remained a prominent regional enterprise into the early 1960s, at which time the auction dwindled. The facility was finally closed as an industrial enterprise in 1970 as volume fell to just 168,000 head (a more than 90 percent reduction from 1945). In subsequent years the property was used for small-scale local livestock shows, 4-H activities, and similar events. The site was primarily vacant or used for storage until development of the Ogden Business Exchange began.