Mike Casey

A New Idea Brings Fresh Faces to Swift Property

Bert Smith’s son-in-law marries business and pleasure with boat shop 

Hidden in there is an entrance to what used to be called the Smith and Edwards Boat Shop.


Mike Casey loved boats and the old Swift property was a perfect spot for a boat shop.



Bert Smith’s son-in-law was a lover of boating. The Swift property was a unique, but perfect spot to sell them. 

Mike Casey

In 1971 Mike Casey, vice president of Smith and Edwards, was running Kammeyer’s after Bert Smith had purchased the clothing store on 24th Street near Washington Boulevard. The spot was quite successful and they started to sell boat supplies and do gun repair in the spot. Casey enjoyed the location and the job and it was quite successful. Things changed at the location they day the new Ogden City Mall was announced. There would soon be no more Kammeyers.



Mike Casey was the vice president of Smith and Edwards. Opening a boat shop at the Swift Property proved to be a successful move for the business for a short time.  

But Bert Smith was never one to let a deal go badly and he started looking for another location that would be useful. He had purchased the old Swift building, located in West Ogden on the other side of the 24th Street viaduct in 1969 soon after the old Swift meat-packing plant had closed in a somewhat abrupt manner. The big old building wasn’t in great repair, but it was sufficient for housing surplus and maybe some other business possibilities, pretty ideal for a boat shop in many ways.


A Boat Shop


The one business possibility Casey was a part of was moving much of the Kammeyer’s merchandise to the building including opening up an expanded boat shop and gun repair shop. Casey loved the idea for many reasons. They could expand the boat shop and all the space made it perfect for boat display. They were able to showcase boats and use the second floor to do so. Even so, they were only using about 10 percent of the Swift (now Smith and Edwards) warehouse. The boat shop was located on the main floor of the old building just east of the ramps of the kill floor where the animals had been taken up for slaughter.


Another reason Casey loved the boat shop was that people didn’t believe they could make a go of it in such a bad neighborhood. “I knew we could do it, because it was really a perfect location,” Casey said.  “No one thought we could sell nice boats in the area, but we’ve proved them wrong, Casey noted.


And yet a third reason Casey loved opening a boat shop was that he knew at the time the outdoor recreation the Ogden area had to offer. He knew of many people who would love the chance to buy boats and all kinds of boat supplies to use close by on the Ogden/Weber rivers and up on Pineview Dam. All places that were just minutes away from the Smith and Edwards Boat shop. Casey loved to talk to people when they would come into the boat shop because they could share their passions – talking about boating and all of its ins and outs.


Dallas Casey, Mike Casey’s son, said he remembers coming to the boat shop with his dad and how much his dad loved it. “He was really into boat racing and so the boat shop really suited him,” Dallas said.


Mike liked the fact that Smith and Edwards gained a whole bunch of storage space for the thousands of surplus items that could not be stored at the current Smtih and Edwards location in Farr West.


A Successful Venture


Mike said the Smith and Edwards Boat Shop opened in about 1972 and they found much success. They sold ski, recreation and fishing boats. They also sold canoes and river boats. “The market was good,” Casey said. They started selling bass boats and those became popular quickly. They were new on the market at the time and people loved them and loved that they could find them locally. “We were the first bass boat dealers and we did a lot to promote them,” Mike said. They also found great success with basic aluminum boats as well. The location proved to be excellent for display purposes because they could use the second floor for display and the prime location with the railroad tracks because they were able to have boats delivered right to the location. “We could have two to three rail carts in at a time and so we became the top bass boat dealer in the country,” Mike said. They had up to 25 full-size boats on display at all times.


Mike always felt proud to tell people he worked at the boat shop and at Smith and Edwards in general. “It was a landmark part of Ogden,” Mike said, adding that everyone knows where both the Smith and Edwards/Swift building is as well as the Farr West Smith and Edwards location. It was a cool place to be and a bit notorious because of the nature of the neighborhood. He loved that they had so much success, especially because of the location.


Many people surmised that there were issues with break-ins and vagrants in the area, but that wasn’t the case. Occasionally a homeless person may wander the grounds, but there was a caretaker for the area that was there pretty much round the clock that worked to chase many people off if they dared come on the premises.


Unique stories


The biggest heist that went on was a strange one. Mike has a couple of Doberman Pinchers that was loved by their family, but were also known to be intimidating. The store was preparing for a huge boat show in Salt Lake City and had quite a few things that were out and accessible so they put the Dobermans on leashes in front of the merchandise. When they went down to get everything for the boat show they found everything intact except for some empty meat packages and no Dobermans. Someone had stolen the dogs!  “The leashes were still there and the dogs were gone,” Mike said with a sigh and a laugh at the same time. “It was the strangest thing. We never did figure that out,” he said.


They would have some strange characters wander around from time to time, but nothing too threatening. But it was a bit of a spooky place – mostly because of the thought of all the animals slaughtered on the top floor of the building, often referred to as the “kill floor.” Legends and myths also circulated about from former employees and through the caretaker of the property.


Mike never felt spooked by the place, but was aware of the spooky nature of the place. “So, why not have a great spook alley for young kids,” Mike thought. He was a leader of youth in his neighborhood and he and a friend created an all-out spook alley at Halloween-time.  They of course took the kids to the kill floor, telling them about all the animals slaughtered there as they walked through. They walked the kids up the kill ramp and then walked them back down. “it was the ideal scary place,” Mike said with a little laugh. “We had teenaged boys crying, it was really something,” Mike added. After that, his area leader suggested they not do that again, ever. “It was fun for one year,” he said with another chuckle.




But things went south quickly in 1977. The business was going strong – great customers, great inventory and inventory that was moving quickly but a sudden spike in the interest rate changed everything. But that wasn’t all. Along with an 18 percent interest rate, gas prices spiked and the viaduct was torn down, making it nearly impossible to get to the boat shop in an any kind of easy manner. Mike said people would have to go about 20 minutes out of the way just to get to the boat shop because of the missing viaduct. “Any one of those things could have spelled disaster, but all three were definitely a deal breaker,” Mike said.  “We had to turn down the lights, the party was over,” Mike added.


Mike and Smith decided it would be best to sell the boat shop and sell it quickly, if that would even be possible. They started looking for a buyer, and surprisingly found one.  “We sold it for too cheap,” Mike said. But, nonetheless, they were able to sell it. Mike said the gentleman who bought it was a great guy with high hopes for the space. The name of the shop changed from “The Smith and Edwards Boat Shop” to just “The Boat Shop.”


“The Boat Shop” stayed open for just a couple more years, about as long as it took to rebuild the viaduct.


Still a use


But Smith and Edwards still actively used the Swift building for storage. Mike said the space became a vital holding place for merchandise, especially surplus. They used the space and went back and forth to retrieve supplies almost daily through the 1970s and much of the 1980s. Things like sporting goods, clothing, and other surplus materials proved to be stored well at the Swift building. In the latter part of the 1980s they started two major add-ons at Smith and Edwards in Farr West. Once those add-ons were complete, they relied less and less on the Swift building as a major storage space. It was of course always used to store surplus, but not inventory that was regularly circulated into the store. “We started to phase out using the Swift building once those renovations were complete,” Mike said. But he did note that during that one decade the area was vital for daily use at Smith and Edwards.


Mike visited the spot regularly during those early years, but visited less frequently over the past 20 years or so. He visited occasionally with Bert Smith to go over some things, but not on a regular basis.


Smith and Edwards tried to sell some boats and supplies for a few years in their sporting goods section at the Farr West Smith and Edwards location, but there just wasn’t the space like at Swift. But as time passed and viaduct was re-built, the Swift building became more dilapidated, so it didn’t make sense to re-open the boat shop in that location.


For Mike, the Smith and Edwards Boat Shop was a great venture while it lasted, but not something to re-visit again.



Being that junction gave Ogden the chance to be a haven for the livestock because livestock could be brought in – not only from all parts of Utah – but Idaho as well. With that opportunity, it seemed only natural to have meat packing right there plus it was easy enough to haul refrigerated freight cars in, so the refrigeration industry had a great place to work and work well. “It was just a huge mecca for business,” Witten said.


Witten loves to talk trains and their worth then and now – he sees it and he loves the transition Ogden is making even today. “We have still kept our Junction City and have that same flavor and diversity,” he said as he looked out onto the bustling 25th Street from his office window, still smiling.



Rachel J. trotter


Rachel J. Trotter is a senior writer/editor at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. She tells people’s stories and shares hers to encourage others. She loves family storytelling. A graduate of Weber State University, she has had articles featured on LDSLiving.com and Mormon.org. She and her husband Mat have six children and live on the East Bench in Ogden, Utah.

tell your story

Evalogue.Life was hired to capture the history of the Ogden Union Stockyards and the old Swift meat packing plant, including oral history and other research. These vignettes were written by Evalogue.Life team members. 

Rillon Champneys

Rillon Champneys grew up quickly from the things he saw at Swift

No regrets, but a lover of hard work


Rillon Champneys was a pro with any cutting tool placed before him. 



Rillon Champneys learned how to work hard and stay happy working on infamous “kill floor” at Swift. 

Rillon Champneys

Rillon Champneys wasn’t quite 18 when he started working at Swift. The technical age was 18, but it seemed to be something the bosses there quietly looked the other way about from time to time. Champneys was one of the lucky ones in his case. He started working at Swift the summer of 1950. Since he was still in high school, Swift was a summer-only job for him. He doesn’t remember exactly where he started, but he quickly ended up on the kill floor.



It didn’t take long for Rillon Champneys to notice one thing most of the workers on the “kill floor” had in common: They were all unhappy.

The kill floor was where all the animals were slaughtered and for Champneys, it was not a place of happiness and joy. “On the killing floor people were unhappy all the time,” Champneys recalled. The work was hard and fast-paced. For Champneys, making friends wasn’t an option because there simply wasn’t time. He never even took a coffee break on the days on the killing floor. He knew guys on other floors made friends, but there was just no time on top and it was pretty cut throat. He worked between 10 and 12-hour days, but sometimes 14 hours. He made around $12 per day, which was big money for a high school kid.


 The Kill Floor


This old article and photo gives a glimpse of the “Kill Floor” in the Swift Building. Much of the equipment still hangs there today.

Champneys mostly focused on killing sheep and he figured about 6,000 went through per day. “Good Lord, I wouldn’t have wanted to work there all the time,” Champneys said of his summer job. For him, working on the kill floor full time, all year would have been a bit too much. He would often think that the outside world just didn’t understand what it was like to work on the kill floor. As he worked he could see that it would get to people and some would lose their sanity. Granted, he didn’t know what their home lives were like that may have contributed to the sadness and anger, but he also could see that the fast pace of the work and the constant need to be faster and better would get the best of nearly everyone. If you didn’t keep pace (or beat pace) there were plenty of people waiting to take your job. The killing floor jobs were the highest paying jobs and plenty of people were vying for them – hoping someone would mess up so they could take the next man’s spot. Champney’s didn’t worry too much about it because he knew it was a summertime job – a means to an end and he could also see what working there year-round did to a man’s mental health and he didn’t want that. But…he really liked the money and for him it was the only positive thing about working there.


Killing the Sheep


There were different kinds of jobs to be done on the kill floor. Because there was a belt-like chain drive whatever job you had you had to keep things going at high momentum. The shifts were in 10 to 12-hour increments and none of the kill floor jobs were easy ones – and even when Champneys tried to make extra money with other side jobs there, they were taxing as well. “Everything was blood and guts (on the kill floor),” Champneys explained. He would find it hard to eat lunch on his lunch break because there was so much blood everywhere it would often make his stomach upset. “Sometimes it would take me three days to eat my lunch,” he noted, just because it was hard to get his stomach settled on a daily basis. He would often trade off on jobs on the floor because he was young and willing to do what needed to be done. He always was equipped with his apron and knife belt that he would wear over his regular clothes. For him, when he started working there all the blood was hard for him to take and even when he wasn’t eating the smell and the thought of the blood was a struggle for him. “I had to get my stomach all straightened out,” he said. “There was blood everywhere, all over the floors, all over the counters, just everywhere. It was hard to believe at times,” he said of the condition of the place during the busiest times. As for the jobs, there was the header who would get rid of the last bit of wool on the sheep. Then there was the cleaner. Somehow the sheep would get very dirty on their rear ends and they would have to be cleaned before they could be slaughtered. They would then shackle the sheep and hook them onto the big, heavy chains and one of the workers would cut their throat, hence all the blood that Champneys came to hate so much.


Then before they could go in the freezer they would have to be pinned on their hind and front legs. Their legs would be wrapped with little sticks with very sharp ends points. The government inspector would then stamp their rear ends once it was complete. It was particularly tough in the summer because it was hot outside, but they had to keep it cold inside. The person in charge of the temperature would often get into trouble because he would struggle to keep the temperature cool enough during summer months.

Killing the Pigs

Champneys also worked at killing the pigs. “Those pigs were so big, good Lord,” Champneys said with a big sigh. Before they could start the slaughter, they would have to take two little parts like pellets off the back of the pig. “We would get the pig, open him up with all the guts and there were two layers. We would peel the fat off – two peels and we would have to find those two dark pill shape things about an inch long and a quarter inch in diameters. They never told us what they for and I always wondered that,” Champneys said. Once they found them they would cut the pigs throat and throw it in a boiling tank of water. It was a huge round tank, but just before they would throw then in they would have to shave off their hair. “It was kind of pitiful,” Champneys said.

March, 1947. Men in cowboy hats with cattle in front of the Exchange Building. From the Alice Petersen estate collection. Digitized by Evalogue.Life 2017.
March, 1947

Cow on the Loose

One day while everyone was slaughtering like crazy, one of the cows decided he wasn’t going to the slaughter. They would kill the cows with a sledgehammer as they came in and put them in the shoot. But one afternoon, they didn’t get the cow knocked out all the way and he got out free on the kill floor. “He was crazy!” Champneys exclaimed. “He took off running through there and knocked everything off the ceiling. The floor was slick, so when he tried to charge he couldn’t go anywhere because it was so slick,” Champneys added. Men started running off the floor as fast as they could because they cow was mad. But as the men they slipped too because it was so slick. In a way, it was a scene of panic, but also hilarity, because no one could move, but the cow was still coming after them. “Once he started charging he just tore the hell out of everything,” Champneys said. But, luckily because it was slick, he couldn’t get a lot of momentum. One of the workers came from out of nowhere and just shot the cow dead. “It was one of the funniest things that ever happened,” Champneys said with a laugh at the thought.


Extra Work

Some days when all the slaughtering was done they would ask some guys to stay and do extra work. That usually entailed taking the pelt off the sheep. Once the pelt was off he would drop it down a chute onto a lower floor. He would then go down to the lower floor and take the pelts and put salt on them. After about four dozen were complete, he would shake the salt out and put into a box for shipping. There were what seemed like thousands of pelts to be done at a time and four men would work with them at once. Why salt? Champneys wondered that for a bit too, but it was then explained to him that the salt would keep the hide soft. When he handled them the pelts still felt soft to him, but they would slowly get hard even as the day would progress – they would be hard enough to be able to shake the salts off. He always felt so tired trying to get all the salts off after working so hard on the killing floor. Even though it was some extra money, he always questioned if it was worth because his body was always so physically exhausted.


Dealing with the crazy

Some of the hardest and saddest parts of the job for Champneys was to watch some of the guys go crazy, literally. He watched two men take their own lives while he was on shift. One man cut his wrists and another jumped off the platform and landed on his head. Several others threatened to jump as well. Champneys was always troubled but what he saw, but also see why the men were driven to it because of the stress of the job. People were afraid of losing their jobs, making quotas and it was simply unpleasant on the kill floor.


All About the Money


“It was a horrible job but it paid really good money,” Champneys said. “I bought a car and good clothes,” Champneys said. It was for that reason that he considered trying to get hired on permanently after he graduated from high school. He had finished his senior year and hadn’t been working at Swift for a few months when he approached his mom about going back to Swift. “It took me six months to get the smell out of your clothes from the last time!” she exclaimed, shaking her head. “That job made you so tired,” his mom reminded him. That was true. He would come home after work and collapse in the kitchen chair just inside the back door every day after his work on the kill floor. The memory of the terrible smell and the hard work rushed back as his mom reminded him, but the money was calling his name. So, he decided to go back anyway. They quickly hired him back (he never knew why they liked him so much except for the fact that he always worked hard and didn’t talk much.) But by the time he got home from his first shift, his parents had something else in mind. They didn’t like the way he acted or felt after his shifts at Swift so his father found him working on the railroad –another hard-working job, but less stressful. He spent the next 23 years of his life working on the railroad. “There was no other job like that, that’s for sure. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever done that ever came close to working on the killing floor,” Champneys said of his time there. He was glad he did the job, he liked the money he made, but it also taught him what kind of work he didn’t want to do for his whole life. Good life lessons learned for Rillon Champneys.



Rachel J. trotter


Rachel J. Trotter is a senior writer/editor at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. She tells people’s stories and shares hers to encourage others. She loves family storytelling. A graduate of Weber State University, she has had articles featured on LDSLiving.com and Mormon.org. She and her husband Mat have six children and live on the East Bench in Ogden, Utah.

tell your story

Evalogue.Life was hired to capture the history of the Ogden Union Stockyards and the old Swift meat packing plant, including oral history and other research. These vignettes were written by Evalogue.Life team members.