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CUYAHOGA SOAP

CUYAHOGA SOAP, a small family-owned rendering firm, became a major domestic producer of tallow. The company was a major consumer of the waste from Cleveland's stockyard operations. Cuyahoga Soap & Rendering, as the company was originally called, was begun by August W. Stadler in 1876 with $98 capital. (A friend offered him $100, but he turned down the extra $2 as unnecessary.) A fire and flood ruined Stadler's early venture, but undaunted, he maintained an office in his home while he acquired the materials to start over. By 1880 the Cuyahoga Soap & Rendering Co. had sales of over $1 million a year and operated one of the largest rendering plants in Ohio. The firm made 43 kinds of soap before World War I cut off necessary imported ingredients. While the firm employed the latest soapmaking technology and testing methods, operations were overseen by a master soapmaker, who tasted the soap to determine whether it had a proper alkali content. Early workers who made the firm's buttermilk soap were noted for their soft white hands, the result of hand-mixing the buttermilk. A fire in 1947 fueled by vast stores of fat and tallow destroyed the plant. The company rebuilt and became the first rendering plant in the county to install state-of-the-art machinery, including extractors that used naphtha solvent for their processing. In the interim, the company stayed alive by contracting for meat scraps and waste and reselling them to other rendering companies. Though the company dropped the Rendering from its name, after the 1930s it concentrated on producing industrial tallow from the fat, bone, and scrap discarded by Cleveland's farms, restaurants, and meat-processing plants. The tallow was used at home and abroad in making soap, livestock and pet foods, lubricants, candles, cosmetics, paint, cement additives, and many other products. With export sales facilitated by cheaper shipping after the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Cuyahoga Soap produced about $15 million worth of tallow by 1960, much of it destined for Western Europe and Japan. Despite the company's prosperity, its fate was tied to that of its suppliers. As meat-packing and stockyard operations declined in the area, the company ceased operations in 1972. The plant was located at 808 Denison Ave.