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Our Opinion: Honoring the cattle industry

February 16, 2001

The fact the cattlemen's gallery at Pioneers' Museum has opened is a sign of what has passed but also a sign of what could come.

The gallery is a tribute to the pioneering men and woman who built the cattle industry in the Imperial Valley. They came in the late 1800s and early 1900s and founded 73 cattle-feeding businesses in the Valley. There were beef-packing sheds and cowboys who moved cattle from the mountains in San Diego County down into the Valley.

It is good to see there are people willing to put in their time and money to make sure we never forget those who came before us. And the gallery was no small effort. It took $180,000 to build and years of effort.

It takes up nearly an entire wing of the museum. There is research material that tells the story of the cattle industry. There is a video that shows a typical day for those in the cattle business. There are mural-size historic photographs. And there are plaques that honor the pioneering cattlemen and women.

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We urge the community to visit the museum to learn about the cattle industry, such an important part of our history. There is something all family members can enjoy.

But the gallery is not just a commemoration of what has passed. The cattle industry is far from dead in the Imperial Valley. There still are 13 cattle-feeding companies here. There are generations of cattlemen who have continued businesses started by their grandfathers and in some cases great-grandfathers.

In Brawley a beef-processing plant is under construction that will not only lead to expansion in the local cattle industry but could spark growth in other aspects of agriculture and in the local economy. Officials with the beef plant project say it will create 600 full-time jobs, which means more money flowing through the Valley because there will be more people employed.

Beef plant officials say if the plant is a success it could create as many as 1,200 jobs. Now is a time for those in the cattle industry and the rest of us to celebrate a big part of the Valley's history and what should be a big part of our future.

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