“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bryan in Brazos County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

The Smokehouse


The Smokehouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, April 3, 2021
1. The Smokehouse Marker

Before refrigeration and the canning process were developed, salt curing and smoking meats were the only ways to preserve fish, poultry, beef, and pork. Almost every farm family had a smoke house, and many cities had commercial smoke houses that sold smoked meats to city dwellers. Whether the meat should be smoked as well as salted was personal preference, frequently backed up with strong local or family custom.

A smokehouse is a building where meat or fish is cured with smoke. The finished product might be stored in the building sometimes for a year or more. Even when smoke is not used, such a building typically a subsidiary building is sometimes referred to as a "smoke house." When smoke is not used, the term "meat house" is common. The lower interior walls of both meat houses and smoke houses are characterized by the extreme furring of the wood (formation of surface deposits), caused by the salt. The upper areas of smokehouses are also blackened by the smoke. A meat house has a solid wood floor; a smokehouse will have a brick pit in the center of the dirt floor, or sometimes a broken/discarded cast-iron pot, for the fire.

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smokehouses were impressive structures that served both as meat smokers and as storage facilities. Communal smokers were responsible for supplying meat for many families. The same was true of bread ovens. They were far too expensive for one household to own, so many shared the same one.

The main purpose of the smokehouse was not to produce cold smoke to improve taste, but to preserve the meat so it would last for a longer period of time. Preservation was achieved by salt curing and prolonged smoking, which took about two weeks or more with cold smoke. The meat continued to hang in a different area of the smoker, sometimes up to two years, and during that time it lost more moisture and acquired more smoke, although at smaller rates. The meats were not cooked to an internal temperature of 160° F (72° C) because that would require strengthening the fire, causing the smokehouse to fill with flames. The effects of food poisoning remained unknown. During that time, the lack of refrigeration promoted smoking to state-of-the-art meat technology. Given cooling facilities, sausages would have been cooked quickly, much like they are now. There would be no need to worry about the meat spoiling, and therefore no need to develop smoking techniques for preservation purposes. The logs for this smokehouse are from a storage building given by Jimmy Weedon of the Harvey Community.

The Smokehouse Marker and the smokehouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, April 3, 2021
2. The Smokehouse Marker and the smokehouse

This is a typical log smokehouse. Cuts of meats, sausages, and other goods hang inside to illustrate the purpose and importance of smokehouses in nineteenth century Texas. Without refrigeration, smoking meat was a way to preserve it for long periods of time. After hogs were butchered in the winter, the smokehouse was put into service. - Library of Congress: Lester Jones, photographer. 1940. Jefferson Co., Kentucky
Erected by Boonville Heritage Park.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Parks & Recreational AreasSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1940.
Location. 30° 40.336′ N, 96° 19.915′ W. Marker is in Bryan, Texas, in Brazos County. Marker can be reached from Boonville Road, 0.1 miles east of Austins Colony Parkway. The marker is located in Boonville Heritage Park west of the entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2421 Boonville Road, Bryan TX 77802, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Harvey Mitchell (within shouting distance of this marker); Turner-Peters Log Cabin (within shouting distance of this marker); The Town Plat (within shouting distance of this marker); Brazos Union Lodge No. 129 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Twin Sisters
The entrance to the Boonville Heritage Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, April 3, 2021
3. The entrance to the Boonville Heritage Park
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Brazos County Courthouse (about 300 feet away); Men of Vision (about 300 feet away); Stagecoach Travel (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bryan.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 30, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 30, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 409 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 30, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Feb. 25, 2024