At the turn of the century, trust were prevalent.
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In this context, a trust is "a combination of firms or corporations formed by a legal agreement; especially: one that reduces or threatens to reduce competition."
Packingtown was a trust in which numerous entities combined under one major conglomerate. In this case, the conglomerate was the Beef Trust.
"He had learned by this time that Packingtown was really not a number of firms at all, but one great firm, the Beef Trust." (Page 120)