While I do not necessarily set my DVR to watch the show, when I get a chance, I do enjoy watching PBS’s show, History Detectives. I love how they take one small item from history then examine its authenticity and the story behind the object or picture. I had heard of Fairmont Creamery quite awhile ago. When I was looking into Nebraska made items for an art project, I found that you can still buy quite a bit of advertising paraphernalia on E-bay featuring the creamery. But, as I started looking into the company for this column, I discovered there was more to the creamery than I originally expected. I felt almost like a history detective, but without a budget or film crew and only my computer to really use as a resource. (So maybe not the same thing?)
Fairmont Insignia Graphic was found at www.trainresource.com
Anyway, the Fairmont Creamery originally began as a small part-time business in Fairmont, Nebraska. An implement dealer and attorney started the company to help in the sale and production of poultry, eggs and butter. The farmers and townspeople owned stock. Primarily they produced butter. In fact, by 1891, their daily production of butter was 7,000 pounds. And that was with only 100 employees! (While my kids evidently enjoy dipping their fingers in the butter container, that is not on the menu as a solo item for most people. So probably no butter week on the blog – but it will fit into our ice cream week shortly – I promise.) Eventually they outgrew their building, and in 1907 it changed into a doctor’s office.
According to the Nebraska State Historical Society, in the 1890s Fairmont Creamery had operations in Crete, Tobias, Friend, DeWitt, Fairbury, Geneva, Milford, and Hebron. When the corporate offices moved to Omaha in 1907, the company began to expand even more.
Ice cream was first manufactured at the Omaha plant in 1907. Originally it was frozen by the old ice and salt method which was slow. This gave way to freezing machines with hollow jackets through which refrigerants were mechanically circulated. By 1934, ice cream was made at nearly all plants.
See, I told you there was ice cream! I took the above information directly from the document linked below from a Nebraska Historical Society pdf document. This publication is extremely thorough and will tell you anything that you want to know about Fairmont Creamery. So, please visit there if you want to learn more!
Fairmont Creamery History from Nebraska History.org
There is still a historical marker at the site of creamery in Fairmont. And the old creamery site is now a museum. (Fillmore County Museum) Note: a big thanks to my wonderful Fairmont friend, Kari, for the pictures of the building and the historical marker!
I thought this was the end of the story. But as I was searching, I discovered that Fairmont Creamery morphed into Fairmont Foods and expanded far beyond the dairy industry, as well as far beyond Nebraska. Many of the buildings were of such historical significance that they have survived to one degree or another. Some are still in use, and some are in the process of being restored. So, if you would like to see some of the many buildings in Nebraska and across the country, here are the links. (Disclaimer note: since I am not the author of these websites, I cannot vouch for their material, particularly the comments. The pictures of the buildings are interesting – some of the text may not be!)
Omaha Fairmont Antiques (includes more Fairmont History)
And here is where we leave Nebraska …
Fairmont Creamery Building in Buffalo, NY
Buffalo Creamery Redevelopment
(Abandoned) in Lawton, OK
Cleveland, Ohio (Redevelopment planned)
Detroit, Michigan (abandoned but rumored to be purchased for restoration?)
Rapid City, South Dakota
Sioux City, Iowa, History Report
Jacksonville, Florida (see picture #6 for even more creamery explanation)
Moorhead, Minnesota Gallery (includes a picture of the Creamery in the middle section of pictures)
The Fairmont Creamery in Moorhead, Minnesota has been changed into a retirement home. I initially could not find the contact information for the place, so I contacted a city clerk. She informed me that the facade of the building is still indeed the same, although the interior has obviously been remodeled. She also mentioned that she remembered as a child having their milk delivered from the Fairmont Creamery directly to her home. “The Fairmont” is now a part of a bigger retirement community organization, which is why I could not find their contact information as easily. (Eventide Retirement Communities: The Fairmont)
There might be more information out there, but this what I found on my initial examination! (And probably more information that anyone has time to investigate anyway! 🙂 )
P.S. Tomorrow we are going to look at some top places to eat ice cream around Nebraska. If you have any suggestions, please e-mail me TODAY (Friday July 19th) at email@example.com Or add a comment at the end of tomorrow’s entry. Thanks!