The CLEVELAND UNION STOCKYARDS CO. was organized as the Cleveland Union Stockyards in 1881 and incorporated as the Cleveland Union Stockyards Co. in 1892. In 1893 it acquired the Farmers & Drovers' Stockyards Co. Originally located on Scranton Rd., it moved to 3200 W. 65th after a landslide destroyed the first site. Dubbed the "Hotel de la Hoof," where the guests walked in and were carted out as steaks and sausages, it provided the hostelry and feedstation for cows, pigs, and sheep until they were sold to meat packers. Its phenomenal growth up through the 1940s, when Cleveland was among the largest meat-processing centers in the U.S., and its subsequent decline reflected the changing trends in meatpacking, marketing, and the American diet.
Comprising more than 60 acres of pens, troughs, brick walkways, and bidding areas, Cleveland Union Stockyards was the 7th largest in the country in the 1920s. Livestock was shipped to such terminal yards and sold by commission merchants to local and out-of-state buyers. The stockyards featured a hotel and bar for farmers who accompanied their livestock to market. In 1923 Cleveland handled 1.3 million hogs, 125,000 cattle, 145,000 calves, and 308,000 sheep and lambs raised in Ohio and the Midwest, 90% of which were dressed and consumed locally. Though Cleveland Union Stockyards activity was only a fraction of that which took place in Chicago, Cleveland could ship U.S.-inspected meat to the East Coast in 48 hours.
In the years following World War II, livestock raising moved westward; the stockyard industry declined in importance as livestock transactions were localized and trucking gave the farmer more freedom to choose his market. Representatives from packinghouses and chain stores began patronizing the local centers or went directly to the farmers, rather than to the stockyards. Accompanying this move toward decentralized buying and slaughter was a move to centralize most meat processing operations in Omaha. Local plants of nationwide concerns such as Swift closed, and old Cleveland firms folded or merged (see CLEVELAND PROVISION CO.). Meanwhile, Americans began to eat less pork, which affected both the stockyard population and the meat-processing industry. The Cleveland Union Stockyards had a heavy capital investment in its property and was too immobile to keep pace with the trends, as the focus of the local industry moved west to Berea. In 1968 the stockyards, then only 35 acres, closed down—only 3 years before the Chicago stockyards faced the same fate.