Attracted by the railroad hub/boomtown appeal of Indianapolis, the Kingans set up shop on the White River in 1863 and built a successful 5-story pork house. Success proved to be short-lived, as arsonists set the plant on fire, and pig lard fueled blaze incurred $240,000 worth of damage. The biggest pork house in the world became the biggest loss incurred in Indianapolis.
This wasn’t the brothers first fire-related rodeo, and they quickly rebuilt their business, selling to the Union army and shipping products back to Europe. In 1868, Kingan engineer George Stockman developed mechanical refrigeration, allowing Kingan to operate year-round. Stockman would later form his own operation and help a local Indianapolis brewery become the first with mechanical refrigeration.
In the late 19th century, following a series of buyouts and mergers with competitors, Kingan & Company’s Indianapolis plant was 27 acres. The company was one of the largest meatpacking plants in the world and a major employer of Irish immigrants in Indiana.