Author Statement

This website is a constant work-in-progress, with articles updated regularly throughout the site. Much of the information comes from local railroad fans such as yourselves. If you have information regarding local railroads, photographs or railroad documents, or you feel a mistake has been made or information omitted from an article, leave a comment on the appropriate page or email me at This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cannery Row: Hovden Food Products Corporation

Knut Hovden [Italians
of the Monterey Peninsula
One of the oldest, largest, well-known, and best-preserved canneries along Monterey's Cannery Row is and remains the Hovden Food Products Corporation. Knut Hovden was an educated Norwegian fisherman who held a degree in fisheries engineering and, alongside Frank E. Booth, was the first to mechanise the canning process in Monterey from 1904. He and Booth were also the first to hire Sicilian fishermen and bring them to Monterey, and it was one of those new hires, Pietro Ferrante, who introduced the Lampara net, which made catching sardines a highly profitable business. By 1917, this net was being used by almost all the fishing boats in the area. Hovden worked with Booth for many years but decided to break away from his partner in 1916, purchasing from Booth the property of Cannery Row's first cannery, the H.R. Robbins cannery, in order to start his own venture.

Hovden Cannery during its hayday, c. 1930s. [Fine Art America]
Portola Brand Sardines can label.
Construction on Hovden's new cannery began in 1916 at the northern end of Ocean View Avenue at its intersection with David Avenue. The original structure at the site survived and thrived through the end of World War I but then largely burned down in 1921, marking the first significant cannery fire on Cannery Row. Hovden experienced a second fire on October 6, 1924, that levelled his new and innovative reduction plant, setting a trend for such fires. But Hovden moved on, erecting the largest canning factory in Monterey. Hovden began specialising in stylised canned sardines, setting him apart from his more average rivals. His canned goods became known as "America's finest sea foods". The company's most famous brands were Portola, Prefet, Hovden, Best Ever, Cresta Blanca, and Cordova. His three story monster of a factory employed over 400 workers in its final years, many of them women. Hovden was also the first on the Row to erect a reduction plant, wherein he aggregated fish byproducts into fishmeal that could be used as fertilizer and livestock feed. Hovden further processed fish oil, which he used in soap, paint, salad dressing, and shortening.

Hovden Cannery freight platform, c. 1975. Spur has already been removed. [Monterey County Photo Archives]
Women working in the Hovden Cannery, c. 1940s.
[Monterey Water Front Cannery Row Tours]
Like most of the canneries that flanked the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch tracks, Hovden had its own railroad spur, installed no later than August 1926 when it first appears on Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. It was a northward exiting spur, which makes it slightly unique among those in the area as boxcars would have to be backed into this relatively short spur rather than allowed to roll to a stop by passing Pacific Grove-bound trains. The spur terminated just before David Avenue beside the Hovden warehouse, and a freight platform ran behind both the warehouse and the can storage room. Unusually for Cannery Row photographs, this freight platform survives in photographs, such as the c. 1975 photo above. It shows the backs of the warehouse and can storage building sitting side-by-side with a mostly covered (and deteriorating platform. The spur has already been removed in this photograph, but the end of the spur can still be recognized by a ramp at the far right end. The tracks remain in place at the time this photograph was taken, suggesting the spur was removed after 1962 but before 1975. The tracks themselves were cut back to Seaside in 1978.
Hovden Cannery boilers, sitting abandoned, c. 1975.  [Monterey County Photo Archives]
Hovden Cannery, main entrance, c. 1975. [Monterey County Photo Archives]
The crash of the sardine industry after World War II impacted this cannery less than others. Hovden had diversified with his reduction plant, and he had also spread out to can non-sardine fish species during World War II. This allowed his company to ride the tide for a while. Hovden himself retired in 1951 and Stanford University's adjacent Hopkins Marine Station purchased the cannery in 1967. They allowed the Wilbur-Ellis Company of San Francisco to continue running the facility under the name Portola Packing Company, but Wilbur-Ellis closed the factory down in February 1973, the last of the canneries to close on the Row. For the next four years, Stanford would use the vacant building for storage, allowing the structures to decay until a fire burned the large warehouse across the street and ruined the attached conveyor in 1977. Much of the facility was demolished over the subsequent three years, leaving only part of the canning room and the large boilers with accompanying smokestacks intact.

Hovden Cannery and warehouse after the last fire, July 12, 1977. [Pat Hathaway]
Demolition of the Hovden Cannery, 1980. [Pat Hathaway]
Opening day of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, October 20, 1984.
[Pat Hathaway]
Fortunately for visitors interested in the Hovden Cannery, much of it has been rebuilt, at least externally. In 1978, the organization that would become the Monterey Bay Aquarium purchased the entire property from Stanford University and began converting it into an aquarium and animal rescue center. The warehouse and other structures burned and demolished over the previous decade were rebuilt to resemble externally the original structures. The boilers and smokestack remain in place at their original locations, while the original canning room can be viewed behind the ticketing station with some images and history of the original facility. The only structure that was never rebuilt in any form was the can storage room, which is now the employee parking lot. The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened on October 20, 1984, after two years of construction, and remains today one of the foremost attractions on California's Central Coast.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
886 Cannery Row
36.618˚N, 121.892˚ W

The Hovden Cannery is almost every day of the year as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, although admission is required to view the historical plaques, artifacts, and boilers found within the surviving warehouse structure.

Citations & Credits:
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "San Carlos Park". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.
  • Chiang, Connie Y. Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast. University of Washington Press, 2009.
  • Library of Congress. Historic photographs and plans for the Hovden Cannery.
  • Ventimiglia, Mike. Images of America: Monterey Fire Department. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cannery Row: San Xaxier Fish Packing Company

Directly in the middle of Cannery Row and acting as the axis at which point the road and Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way took a hard turn to the northwest once sat the San Xavier Fish Packing Company. The company was founded by Frank E. Raiter, a Swiss immigrant who spent many years in the wine industry before moving to Monterey and becoming a fish packer in 1917. His first business seems to have been a small cannery located between Ocean View Avenue and the railroad tracks at the bottom of the northern half of Cannery Row built in 1923. Between 1926 and 1932, Raiter expanded his operations immensely and found the San Xavier Cannery. The San Xavier company did not only pack sardines, as some other local packing houses did, but it also canned tuna and albacore and produced fish meal and oil products. The company's most famous fish brands included Sierra, Triple A, San Xavier, Salaroc, and Silver Beauty.

A multiethnic blend of workers check the sardines at the San Xavier Cannery, c1930s.
[Images of America: Monterey's Waterfront]
Connected to the cannery via a second-story enclosed conveyor that crossed the road, the original Raiter cannery was converted into San Xavier's freight and export warehouse. This structure was a two-story, wood-frame structure erected atop a concrete slab, the latter of which remains in place today. The walls were also covered in corrugated steel sidings, matching the appearance of many of the other canneries on the road. The presence of an abandoned railroad tanker car parked beside the warehouse suggests that this cannery did have railroad service via a spur, but Sanborn maps from 1926 show no such track and the track has already been removed by 1962. Regardless of the presence of a spur, the company was certainly a patron of the railroad via shipments exported from their warehouse which had sat immediately beside the Monterey Branch right-of-way. If no spur or siding was present, loading was directly via the main track.

Stohan's Art Gallery and the former San Xavier Cannery reduction plant. [Scot Hampton]
In 1939, Raiter expanded his business to packing fruit and vegetables in the Salinas Valley. He expanded to the north in 1941 and added a small reduction plant to his complex. In 1944, he also purchased additional property to the south from Angelo Lucido who had purchased the demolished mansion and estate of Hugh Tevis, who had been built a palatial complex between Reeside and Drake Streets in 1901. By this point in time, it seems Lucido was interested in purchasing the San Xavier Fish Packing Company outright, although when that transaction occurred is not known to this author. In 1952, the cannery was featured heavily in the Marilyn Monroe film Clash By Night, which makes this one of the best recorded canneries along Cannery Row. Check out thirteen minutes of the film here.

San Xavier Cannery burning down after a suspicious fire was set nearby, October 1967.
[Images of America: Monterey Fire Department]
Enclosed conveyor collapsing into the road, 1967. [Monterey Herald]
Lucido and his company ran the San Xavier Cannery until 1962, at which point the various structures took on lives of their own. The cannery itself burned to the ground on October 10, 1967, leaving the ruins that are still visible there today. The large warehouse appears to have been abandoned beside the railroad tracks, slowly deteriorating until the City of Monterey demolished it in 1997 due to safety concerns and to make room for a condominium complex that was planned but later halted due to public concerns. The reduction plant briefly became a kelp-processing facility after 1967 and continued in that capacity until 1975, when it became Stohan's Art Gallery. The building has stood vacant since 1997 and is currently gated off from the public.

The San Xavier Cannery the day after the fire, October 1967. [Images of America: Monterey Fire Department]
Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
435, 480, 484 Cannery Row
36.613˚N, 121.898˚ W

In many ways, the San Xavier Cannery ruins are unique among those on Cannery Row because they are entirely visible and partially accessible to the public. The former warehouse is an annex parking lot raised on all sides by the former foundations of the structure. In fact, a steel fish oil storage tank still sits rusting at the back of the lot. There is also a half-buried railroad tanker car that had originally been used to store fuel oil for the cannery. Across the street, between the abandoned Stohan's Gallery and the Chart House restaurant, the ruins of the San Xavier Cannery can be viewed through a chain-linked fence. This is also arguably the most extensive ruin on Cannery Row, with the remains of a fish ladder and the walls all clear from the road.

Citations & Credits:
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "San Carlos Park". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.
  • Thomas, Tim, and Dennis Copeland. Images of America: Monterey's Waterfront. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
  • Ventimiglia, Mike. Images of America: Monterey Fire Department. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Curiosities: The Hihn Railroad Grade

Santa Cruz County map, 1929. [UCSC]
A peculiarity in Santa Cruz County is the presence of a long forgotten piece of history that meanders along the east side of Soquel Creek for over five miles from Park Avenue above Capitola Village to Olive Springs Road on the western fringe of the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. This relic of a long lost age is the Hihn Railroad Grade, a bygone project of an optimistic time. Meandering through the Soquel Creek basin, this right-of-way was never used by any railroad but its nearly 150-year-old grade remains a mostly unused and only partially owned path that runs behind and acts as the boundary for over a hundred homes and businesses in Soquel and the unincorporated area above it.

In the late 1860s and the early 1870s, Frederick Augustus Hihn was desperate for a railroad in Santa Cruz County. Hihn was a local entrepreneur, an immigrant from Germany who came to California during the Gold Rush in 1849. He moved to Santa Cruz County in 1851 and quickly became one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the city. In 1856, Hihn purchased 12/19ths of Martina Castro's massive Rancho Shoquel Aumentación, which was composed primarily of endless tracts of old growth redwood trees alongside Soquel and Aptos Creeks. Hihn's new holdings ran to the headwaters of Soquel Creek as well as up many of its tributaries. In 1860, Hihn also purchased 404 acres of Rancho Shoquel, receiving that lot as part of a mortgage settlement. Over 5,000 acres of timber were estimated to be in the rancho lands that Hihn owned. Unfortunately for the magnate, he had no easy way to transport any of this potential wealth to the word beyond. Previous lumber operations in the area had relied upon oxen- and mule-driven methods that were slow, dangerous, and limited in their capacities.

Hihn's plan was to built a standard-gauged railroad up from the proposed route that would run along the coast to the mill of his business partners, the Grovers—J. Lyman, Stephan Frealon, Whitney, and Dwight W.—who had operated out of Bates Creek since 1866. Once his route was completed, he would transport the timber to a large lumber and planing mill located near the mainline at the beach. In reality, this was just a part of a much larger scheme that would have, in essence, created the route between Santa Cruz County and the city of San José nearly a decade earlier than the South Pacific Coast and via a drastically different right-of-way that would have bypassed the San Lorenzo watershed entirely. Part threat and part actual intent, the proposal for a standard-gauged railroad running directly between San José and Soquel was used by Hihn as a bargaining chip while negotiating the right-of-way for the Santa Cruz & Watsonville Railroad. The proposed route, which was surveyed in the summer of 1871, would have followed the later route of the South Pacific Coast up to the region of modern-day Laurel, at which point it would have passed through a tunnel into the greater Soquel basin. The route would have then meandered down the east bank of the river until terminating at the Soquel Landing pier. But both ventures ultimately failed, and the plans changed when the Santa Cruz Railroad eventually passed through the area in 1874. Rather than heading straight out to sea, the final alignment of Hihn's Railroad Grade—by now repurposed as a long narrow-gauged lumber long—arced to the east in a wide loop, eventually joining with the railroad track on the bluff above Soquel Landing. This adjustment clearly shows Hihn's intent as late as 1874 to build a railroad line between Soquel and his timber tracts.

Grover mill up Bates Creek, 1883. [Soquel Pioneer and Historical Association]
The land for this railroad was parcelled out from the rancho and established as a separate continuous tract, 40 feet wide and roughly five miles long. The right-of-way never crossed Soquel Creek once, although it certainly crossed a number of smaller feeder creeks and streams, the largest of which was Bates Creek itself just outside of Soquel. One question that immediately presents itself to anyone interested in this line is: was it ever used for a railroad? For the most part, the answer to that question is a definitive no. From as early as 1885, the property boundary records and parcel maps refer to the right-of-way as the "Hihn Railroad Grade", which implies it remained unused. By that time, Hihn was already working on a different railroad route up the nearby Aptos Creek to access the mill of the Loma Prieta Lumber Company, in which he had a significant stake. But a portion of this right-of-way may have been used. From the 1870s, it seems that Hihn maintained a lumber yard immediately beside the Santa Cruz Railroad line and it seems highly likely that at least a short spur was extended down the grade. Even more convincing, however, is that from 1874, the California Beet Sugar Company owned by Claus Spreckels operated its primary sugar beet refinery on the modern-day site of Nob Hill Foods, and Hihn Company records suggest that a railroad spur was to be extended to this factory. Assuming this company spur was built, it would have run along the Hihn Railroad Grade until reaching modern-day State Route 1, at which point it would have turned west off the grade. A Santa Cruz Sentinel article from February 1874 notes that the factory was only 60 yards from the track, which is impossible without a spur considering the factory was over 1/4 mile from the mainline right-of-way and also sat alongside Soquel Creek far below the tracks which ran above over a trestle. The factory relocated in 1884 and few maps show its extent, making confirmation of its railroad spur difficult to determine.

A homestead along Soquel Creek with the roof of the defunct California Beet Sugar warehouse in the distance, 1887.
[Polhemus family, Edith C. Smith Collection, Sourisseau Academy, San Jose State University]
Throughout this time, the Soquel timber tracts remained a relatively minor operation, the purview of the Grovers who also operated mills in Boulder Creek, Scotts Valley, and Porter Gulch. Over the years, the Grovers constructed two more mills in the area while Hihn himself built a small isolated cable railway south of Laurel near the headwaters of Soquel Creek, but only steam donkeys were used here, no locomotives. By 1916, Hihn returned to the lower Soquel area to complete the job he left undone half-a-century earlier. But this time, he decided to use rugged motor trucks newly designed for use by the military in Europe. Although using the old Hihn Railway Grade was discussed, it was dismissed as unprofitable, with a cost of at least $42,000 required and up to 10 miles of track needed to reach all of the possible tracts.

Hihn's flume through Soquel in the mid-1880s. [Images of America: Soquel]
Just because the route was never used for a railroad does not mean it went unused. One strong possibility is that the right-of-way was repurposed by Hihn in the 1880s for a flume which he installed along Soquel Creek to service the South Coast Paper Mill, which first opened around 1879. This flume also accepted sewage from Soquel School and a tent campground. Notably, it is said that this flume went subterranean for 300 feet as it approached Depot Hill and then exited in a direction toward Aptos. The unedited map above from 1929 notes a change in the Hihn Railroad Grade in roughly this same area, with the map-maker changing the sold line to dashes implying a subterranean portion of right-of-way. Generally, this implies the existence of a tunnel. Indeed, the paper mill was still in operation as late as 1931 – two years after the map was made – and may have still used the flume or some successor to it until this date.

1948 aerial view of the Santa Cruz Airport at Capitola showing its two perpendicular runways. [Airfields-Freeman]
However, it is likely this final stretch of grade was removed as early as 1926 when the Santa Cruz Airport was opened directly atop the old grade. The main purpose of this air field was to support the adjacent Camp McQuaide, home of the 250th Coast Artillery, but over the years it became a regular operation for small commercial flights. The entire property was purchased at this time by the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, explaining why the railroad grade parcel boundaries no longer appear in this area today. The airport was closed in September 1954 and by the mid-1960s, the entire area had been subdivided and developed.

Hihn Railroad Grade at the intersection of Glenhaven Rd. and Cherrvale Ave. The private road is not, in actuality, the
grade, but rather the grade runs along the bottom of the hill at left where the sign sits. [Google StreetView] 
Regardless of whether it was used or not, the majority of the grade still exists as a series of independent parcels running primarily between Soquel Drive and Olive Springs Road. Most of these parcels are undeveloped, although roads and homes populate some portions, especially those nearer to the town of Soquel. Today, one would not notice the former railroad grade, but it is still there. From the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway tracks at the intersection of Washburn Avenue and Park Street, the grade curves wide to the northeast and has been entirely developed over. But it reappears as Kennedy Drive briefly before crossing State Route 1 and cutting through more housing, until reaching Aguazul Drive. From there, the grade runs behind the Christian Science Church and Main Street Elementary School, as well as numerous homes. At the intersection of Glenhaven Road and Cherryvale Avenue, the grade acts as a third direction, passing almost directly between the split before making a wide arc to the east and then briefly returning to Cherryvale Avenue. Its path continues north, crossing High Gulch Road and briefly becoming Bobcat Trail. It then crosses High Gulch two more times before definitively disappearing into the Soquel Augmentation Rancho wilderness. Its terminus is located somewhere east of Mountain Elementary School in a deep second-growth forest.

Citations & Credits:
  • Clark, Donald. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008.
  • "Entry #466-468." F. A. Hihn Company's Agreements, Deeds, & Leases, vol. 2. University of California, Santa Cruz. Edited and curated by Stanley Stevens.
  • F. A. Hihn Company Collection. University of California, Santa Cruz. Edited and curated by Stanley Stevens.
  • Freeman, Paul. "California: Monterey area". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields, 2016.
  • Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1871-1874.
  • Soquel Pioneer and Historical Association, Images of America: Soquel. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2011.
  • Stevens, Stanley, personal correspondence.
  • University of California, Santa Cruz. "1929 Santa Cruz County Map". UCSC Map Library Collections.
  • Young, John V. Ghost Towns of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Lafayette, CA: Great West Books, 2002.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Cannery Row: Monterey Canning Company

A.M. Allan, his wife Florence Macrae, his son Bobby,
and an unidentified man, 1926. [Hudson & Wood]
Mid-way down Monterey's Cannery Row sits one of the oldest surviving canneries, built during the height of World War I by Alexander MacMillan Allan, a Pennsylvania-born son of Scotland. Allan was originally a mining engineer who ventured to the Monterey Bay to restart the abandoned Carmel Land & Coal Company in 1897. The next year, he founded the Point Lobos Abalone Company and began hiring Japanese fishermen to fish and dive for abalone to serve at nearby restaurants. He quickly became popular among the Japanese community and employed many of them when he founded in 1917 the Monterey Canning Company, an expansive complex that spanned Ocean View Avenue. Unique among the Cannery Row factories, both of the Monterey Canning Company's main structures included faux espadana street-front façades, a style that reflected a late entry in the contemporaneous Mission Revival movement.

Monterey Canning Company reduction plant with A.M. Allan and George Harper in front, 1918. [Thomas, Japanese]

Allan died in April 1930 and operations at the Monterey Canning Company were taken over by George Harper, a longtime employee of the cannery who originated in the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. He moved to the Monterey Bay area in 1886 where he initially ran a ranch and moonlighted as a banker. He became interested in sardine canning, however, and quickly began packaging his own unique blend of fish in sauce from homegrown tomatoes when he took over the company. When Harper retired, probably in the 1940s, Allen's son-in-law, Magnus Robert Flause, another Shetland Islander, took over operations and ran it into the 1950s when the company was finally forced to shut down due to low fish yields.

View from the roof of the Monterey Canning Company warehouse, looking east across Prescott Avenue, c. 1930s.
Note the railroad crossing sign visible at right beside the road. [Thomas & Copeland]
For over a decade after the company was founded, the cannery appears to have only been composed of the large reduction plant that sat beside and over the Monterey Bay. The lot across from it remained vacant during this time, suggesting the cannery owned the land and was retaining it for future use. During the 1930s under the management of Harper, the large warehouse was added across the road and it was connected to the reduction plant by a second-story enclosed conveyor. This warehouse was strategically placed beside the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch tracks, allowing it easy and direct access to the railroad. The railroad installed in the 1930s a relatively-long, southward-exiting spur behind the cannery that also catered to the canneries to the west, eventually terminating at Irving Avenue. This spur remained in place into the 1960s, although the date that it was ultimately removed is not known. It was certainly removed no later than 1978 when the branch line was cut back to Seaside.

A fire on February 24, 1978, burns the 60-year-old reduction plant of the Monterey Canning Company. [Monterey Herald]
The cannery survived until February 1978, when a fire swept through the former reduction plant and levelled it to the ground. The warehouse and conveyor corridor endured the fire with only minor damage. Due to its unique façade and its important placement along Cannery Row, the main cannery building was rebuilt and now largely appears as it did prior to the fire, although it is an entirely new structure. The warehouse and conveyor remain the original 1930s structures, somewhat modified over the years to facilitate the change from cannery to commercial business space.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
723-725 Cannery Row
36.616˚N, 121.901˚W

The Monterey Canning Company warehouse and conveyor, 2013.
The original Monterey Canning Company warehouse still sits at the corner of Cannery Row and Prescott Avenue with the Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail running behind it. Today it hosts numerous commercial shops and restaurants. It is a large, two-story, red-painted, corrugated steel enclosed structure which still retains a bright "Monterey Canning Company" name on its Mission Revival false front. Although there are numerous exit doors beside the former right-of-way, there appears to be no trace of the former loading platform that once sat behind the warehouse. However, that portion of the trail is especially wide when compared to other parts along the route, owing to the presence of the former parallel spur. The enclosed conveyor over the road survives and now may be used by shoppers as an overpass which accesses the rebuilt reduction plant on the ocean side, a complex that houses an abundance of businesses as well as the "Spirit of Monterey" Wax Museum.

Citations & Credits:
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "San Carlos Park". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.
  • Hudson, Monica, and Suzanne Wood. Images of America: Point Lobos. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
  • Thomas, Tim. The Abalone King of Monterey: "Pop" Ernest Doelter, Pioneering Japanese Fishermen, and the Culinary Classic that Saved an Industry. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2014.
  • Thomas, Tim, and Dennis Copeland. Images of America: Monterey's Waterfront. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cannery Row: San Carlos Canning Company & E.B. Gross Cannery

The Associated Oil fire, September 14, 1924.
[Monterey Fire Department]
At the southeastern end of Cannery Row, two intimately-linke canneries occupied the site that is now the San Carlos Beach Park. The earliest operation at the site was Edward B. Gross's sardine cannery, which opened in 1919 near the end of modern-day Reeside Avenue. Missing out on the World War I boom, his packing plant burned to the ground in September 1924 when an oil tank on the nearby Associated Oil Pier was struck by lightning and the ensuing fire spread to the surrounding buildings at its base. Over 55,000 gallons of crude oil and 600,000 gallons of gasoline burned in the fire, as well as kerosene tanks, and it required the Monterey Fire Department's engine to pump water for 72 hours straight to extinguish the inferno which had literally set the bay aflame. When all was said-and-done, two canneries, five homes, and six fishing boats were burned, as well as the Associated Oil pier. Two soldiers died fighting this fire. Gross quickly rebuilt his reduction plant and maintained the cannery until 1943 when he sold it to the Peninsula Packing Company. Very little is known of this later company except it was one of two owned by the company and was initially owned by G.M. Dollar and then later by G.H. Leutzinger. It continued to run until 1956, outlasting many of the other canneries on the Row.

Close-up of the San Carlos and E.B. Gross Canneries at the end of Cannery Row, October 25, 1934. [Pat Hathaway]
Immediately next door to the south, one of the largest sardine plants on Cannery Row opened up in 1927 under the name San Carlos Canning Company, named after the nearby Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo. The company was founded in 1926 by local Sicilian fishermen Pietro Ferrante, Orazio Enea, and other members of the community who were tired of working for other canneries, and, despite opening on the cusp of the Great Depression, the massive facility proved both profitable and enduring throughout the Depression years. In a short time, the company became known for three sardine brands: Velera, Don Carlos, and Dixieland. However, Ferrante left the company in 1931 and sold his half to Angelo Lucido, who soon added to his holdings a tuna cannery in Port Hueneme near Oxnard. By the point, the fisherman cooperative that had originally formed the basis of the enterprise was dead and the company was entirely corporatized with Lucido owning lands under the San Carlos name throughout the state. Bombs and death threats against Lucido were not uncommon during the Depression years. Orazio Enea was later able to establish his own Aeneas Sardine Products Company from lands purchased from Lucido in 1944, but by then the damage to the fishing industry was already done. Although the San Carlos Canning Company continued to thrive during World War II, the massive depletion of sardines from the Monterey Bay led to the facility's inevitable closure in the late 1940s. Lucido briefly tried manually shipping sardines to Monterey from other fisheries in the state between 1946-7, but the endeavor failed to be profitable.

During its years of operation, the San Carlos cannery and the E.B. Gross cannery maintained a joint warehouse across the road beside the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch tracks. This warehouse was linked to the reduction plants of the Gross and San Carlos canneries via a single elevated conveyor that ran across Ocean View Boulevard. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the warehouse, the railroad installed a short dedicated spur which exited to the west and terminated immediately before Reeside Avenue. This spur remained in place into the 1960s and was likely only removed when the route itself was cut back and dismantled in 1978.

The National Automotive Fibers fire at the former San Carlos Cannery, November 22, 1956. [Mike Ventimiglia]
For the decade after the San Carlos Cannery closed, the primary tenant of the old building was the National Automotive Fibers Company, which employed around 230 people at the facility. The old warehouse caught fire on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 1956, which destroyed not only the San Carlos buildings but also the Gross cannery and the nearby California Frozen Fish Company, which had been built in 1945 on the site of another victim of the 1924 Associated Oil fire. It was the largest fire in Cannery Row's history – 250 firefighters and local volunteers helped fight the blaze and the smoke was easily visible across the bay in Santa Cruz. At the time that it burned down, the San Carlos complex was the largest former cannery on the Row and was still in very good condition. Cutting their losses, none of the businesses rebuilt and the property quickly fell into ruin. The City of Monterey finally purchased the properties, cleaned up the beach area, and turned it into a public beach park in 1997.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
The ruins at San Carlos Beach Park, 2015. [Wandergazer]
214 Cannery Row
36.610˚N, 121.900˚W

The site of the San Carlos Cannery is now San Carlos Beach Park, a municipal beach open to the public. The park was opened in 1997 on the site of the old cannery and ruins of the original cannery complex survive throughout the area, with some curated via interpretative signs. The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail marks the site of the railroad right-of-way, with the site of the San Carlos Cannery's spur located just south of Reeside Avenue on the ocean side of the trail.

Citations & Credits:

  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "San Carlos Park". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.
  • Chiang, Connie Y. Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.
  • Walton, John. "Cannery Row: Class, Community, and History". In Reworking Class. Edited by John R. Hall, 243-286. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.
  • Ventimiglia, Mike. Images of America: Monterey Fire Department. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cannery Row: American Can Company

Original smokestack for the American
Can Company. [Pat Hathaway]
Although geographically not a part of Monterey's Cannery Row and itself not a cannery, the American Can Company facility on the absolute southeastern fringe of Pacific Grove both catered to the local fish canneries and utilised the adjacent Southern Pacific Railroad tracks to transport its goods. The area of the facility was originally Pacific Grove's Chinatown, but changes in the laws and suspicious fires had forced most of the Chinese out of the area in the 1910s. The 1920s saw a drastic increase in the intakes of fishing boats as new techniques were used to raise the sardine and tune yields. However, the can companies that imported their wares to Monterey were unable to meet this new demand. In response, the American Can Company, a New York-based national Tin Can Trust corporation founded in 1901 by Irving Fein of Greenwich, Connecticut, began construction on a large new facility just northeast of Cannery Row in Spring 1926 to create packaging materials for the myriad canneries that lines Ocean View Boulevard. Soon after construction was completed the next year, the company introduced the famed, one-pound oval sardine can that became associated worldwide with Cannery Row.

Satellite view of the American Can company complex showing all four structures, 2011. [Google Maps]
Their facility encompassed an entire industrial block just north of the Row and sat promptly across Ocean View Boulevard from the railroad tracks. The factory was divided into three large sections and a small annex, all of which remain today. The annex was a single-story concrete shipping office located at the corner of Eardley and Ocean View. The first large portion, just to the north, was a spacious area with steel columns supporting a roof lined with skylights. North of that, the second and largest was a 36-foot-hight wood-frame structure garbed in corrugated steel with large multi-paned windows on the walls. And at the end, this tapered off into a smaller concrete shipping warehouse. Sheets of tin were trucked and railroaded into the factory on a near-daily basis from the Monterey Wharf and machined into the sardine cans, which were then shipped by truck and rail to the various packing plants along Cannery Row. The plant averaged tens of millions of cans per year.

Buffer stop at the end of the old freight spur. [Google StreetView]
Railroad service to the can company probably began almost immediately, although it is difficult to determine since Sanborn Maps for this part of Pacific Grove are not forthcoming. At least one spur ran from the north along the side of the corrugated steel structure, ending at a steel buffer stop. The long freight-loading platform still remains today as a pedestrian walkway, with the wooden bumpers along the side painted but still in place. The boardwalk that is now on the ocean side of the skylit structure, meanwhile, may also have acted as a freight platform originally, perhaps catering to a long siding that ran the length of the complex, but evidence for this is less certain.

The American Can Company presence in Pacific Grove survived until 1954, after struggling for years from the sardine market crash. The company itself lived on but slowly shifted its focus to financial ventures, merging with PennCorp in 1982 to become Primerica, Inc., a publicly-traded insurance and financial services company.

The vacant factory was purchased around 1957 by National Automotive Fibers, Inc. (NAFI), which manufactured upholstery for automobiles. NAFI had lost its main Monterey-area factory on November 27, 1956, in a disastrous fire that demolished the former San Carlos Cannery, where NAFI had been based. Its relocation to the recently-abandoned American Can Company facility allowed the company to remain in the region for another three decades. In 1962, the company was renamed Chris-Craft Industries, Inc., although it retained its former name as a subsidiary. The railroad continued to service this new company as it had the previous tenant, shipping finished goods out to the mainline track at Castroville. In the late 1970s, Chris-Craft vacated the facility, although it survived elsewhere until 2001 when it was sold to News Corp as a television subsidiary, the company's other ventures all having been sold off or abandoned. The large factory in Pacific Grove thereafter became the single massive Ardan department store.

The modern American Tin Cannery complex in the old American Can Company buildings, 2011. [Google StreetView]
Ardan shut its doors in 1986 and the entire complex was soon converted into California's first factory outlet center: the American Tin Cannery. The name has always been a bit of a misnomer since, although the original facility did create tin cans, it was not a cannery in the same way that the other packing houses on Cannery Row were called canneries. The American Tin Cannery existed for many years as the popular outlet mall, but declining mall attendance has seen it vacillate between various types of retail complexes, resulting in the mixed retail, restaurant, entertainment, and office facility present today. Few of the early outlets remain, although Reebok in the former shipping warehouse has been in place since the beginning. Plans have been in place since April 2016 to turn the complex into a hotel and convention center, but nothing has yet been done to realise that project.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
125 Ocean View Blvd, Pacific Grove, CA
36.619˚N, 121.904˚W

The entirety of the former can company is now the site of the American Tin Cannery retail, shopping, and entertainment center and is open to the public. Images of the can company as well as historical plaques can be found throughout the complex, while some of the original architecture remains in place beside modern commercial retail spaces. The ocean-side curb area on the southeast side of the structure marks the former site of the railroad spur that serviced the company. The former freight-loading platform now serves as an extended boardwalk running along Ocean View Blvd. The northwestern oceanside of the structure supported a freight spur, the buffer stop for which remains in place near the convergence of the two parts of the structure. The freight-loading curb continues as concrete to the end of the building, with the wooden bumper painted but still in place along the sidewall.

Citations & Credits:
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "299 Cannery Row" and "300 Cannery Row". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.
  • City of Pacific Grove. "Historic Context (1927 – 1945)". Historic Context Statement – Final.
  • Howe, Kevin. "Factory outlet may get makeover". Monterey Herald, April 7, 2008.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Cannery Row: Aeneas Sardine Products Company

World War II accelerated the pace of canning operations along Cannery Row in Monterey, California, leading to a new expansion of canneries to the south of the traditional heart of the canning district. Angelo Lucido, who owned the expansive San Carlos Canning Company at the geographic bottom of Cannery Row, decided in 1941 to purchase the vacant properties of Tevis Murray to the north of his enterprise. Lucido then turned around and resold the land to interested parties, the foremost among them being his brother, Frank Lucido, and a family friend, Orazio Enea.

The Aeneas Cannery under construction, 1945. The warehouse and conveyor are not yet built. [Pat Hathaway]
The conveyor crossing over Wave Street, c. 1957.
[Robert Lewis/The History Co]
The Eneas Canning Company was founded on August 25, 1945, under the leadership of these two men. It was soon renamed Aeneas Sardine Products Company, adopting an Anglicization of the latter's surname. Enea was a Sicilian man who came to California at the beginning of the century as a salmon fisherman along the Sacramento River. He relocated to Monterey in 1906 where he worked at Booth's cannery canning sardines before transferring to Pietro Ferrante's San Carlo Canning Company. He became a free agent in the 1920s, working at various ventures and consulting with canneries until he became involved with the Lucido brothers. Construction on the new cannery was a $47,000 venture that included the erection of a cannery, reduction plant, and a 8,000-square-foot warehouse. Robert R. Jones, notorious for designing 27 canneries in Monterey was hired as the architect, with Albert B. Coats, equally notorious for building half of Cannery Row, acting as contractor. Construction was finished by the end of the year, with the warehouse being the last structure to be erected.

1962 Sanborn Map showing Aeneas Cannery and its spur.
[Architectural Resources Group, et al.]
The portion of the structure most relevant to the railroad is that of the warehouse at 299 Wave Street (now Cannery Row). Cushioned between the road and the railroad right-of-way, the warehouse was connected to the main reduction plant and cannery by an enclosed conveyor that ran across the road between the two structures and still remains in place today. Aeneas had access to a short, 100-foot-long private spur that exited southbound onto the Monterey Branch track of the Southern Pacific Railroad. This spur is recorded as still present on a 1962 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, although the cannery itself appears vacant at this time.

Aeneas Cannery (indicated with arrow), mid-1950s soon after closure. Note railroad tracks at top-left. [Pat Hathaway]
The Aeneas Company ended up being one of the last canneries built on Cannery Row and one of the least successful, owing primarily to the fact that the sardine industry utterly crashed in 1946 and continued to hemorrhage through 1947 and 1948. Aeneas scraped by for six years but finally announced the auction of its new canning complex on February 22, 1952. It was one of the first operations to shut its doors. The property was sold to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in March 1953 for $100,000. In 1974, the buildings underwent a remodelling under the direction of architect Paul E. Davis. His work on allowed both structures to be converted to commercial and business uses. Both structures are now on the National Register as places of historical interest.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
299-300 Cannery Row, Monterey CA
36.611˚N, 121.898˚W

The former Aeneas Sardine warehouse at 299 Cannery Row is now the home of Adventures by the Sea commercial suites. Businesses in the structure include Papa Chevo's Taco Shop and Breezer's bikes, while the upstairs is used as the corporate office for Evans & Johnson's promotions service. The main cannery structure at 300 Cannery Row was occupied until January 2014 by Light & Motion, a company that creates advanced lighting technologies for athletes, but now is awaiting new tenants.

Citations & Credits:
  • "Aeneas Sardine Packing Company Cannery". National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "299 Cannery Row" and "300 Cannery Row". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Curiosities: Skee-Roll at the Boardwalk

Deconstruction of the various substructures that compose the current
Skee-Roll Arcade building, August 2016. [Google Maps]
September 5, 2016 marks the close of a chapter in Santa Cruz history. For over 123 years, a small, unassuming structure at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been in continuous use, the only remaining part of the Neptune Casino complex that Fred Walker Swanton built in 1904 and that burned down in an epic fire on June 22, 1906. Repaired, extended, repainted, and remodelled more times than one can calculate, the Skee-Roll Arcade building that has for so long greeted visitors on the east side of Walkway 2 is finally being demolished by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company in order to erect a new, state-of-the-art facility. For many reasons, this is a very good thing, but by its demolition, the Boardwalk loses the last connection it has to a tragic but defining moment in the history of the Santa Cruz Main Beach.

The Neptune Plunge in the late 1890s. At far right, the hot baths and powerhouse structure can be seen above the sands.
[Images of America: Santa Cruz, California]
The Neptune Plunge and powerhouse seen from the Electric Pier, 1904.
In Fall 1903, Swanton began construction on a large, Moorish-style entertainment center at the bottom of Cliff Street that he named Neptune Casino. In reality, what he built was an amalgamation of new and old seaside structures. His company, the Santa Cruz Beach Cottage & Tent City Corporation, purchased the large Miller-Leibbrandt Plunge, a large pool that treated vacationers to heated salt water pumped straight from the Monterey Bay. The building itself had replaced the Dolphin Baths, one of the oldest bath houses on the Monterey Bay, in 1893 when John Leibbrandt, who owned the adjacent Neptune Baths, joined forces with Ralph and A.E. Miller. It was probably in 1893 that the structure that would one day be the Operations Office and Skee-Roll Arcade was first built. Swanton's Casino did not appear in its final form until 1904, just west of the Miller-Leibbrant Plunge, which was renamed the Neptune Plunge and received a Moorish facelift, while the final structure in the complex, the Skate Rink, was built in Spring 1905.

Sanborn Map showing the "Tub Baths" building at right, beside the Neptune Baths (center) and Neptune Casino, 1905.
[UC Santa Cruz Digital Collections]
Construction on the second Casino complex, early 1907. The
old powerhouse and baths are visible at far right at the base of the pier.
Confirmation of the Skee-Roll Arcade building's early existence is provided by the Sanborn map above and a number of extant photographs of the first Casino complex, where the structure is visible at the extreme right (see right and below). The map shows the small structure at the bottom of the "Pleasure Wharf" (actually called at that time, the "Electric Pier"), across from an early steam-powedered merry-go-round, a tiny aquarium, and a tin-type portrait studio. By this year, 1905, the structure had already been expanded once. The older section, on the trackside, was the two-story powerhouse and boiler room for the Neptune Plunge. The water tanks were stored just to the east, and the water was pumped through the building in order to heat it before passing underground to a steam laundry room and then into the main pool. Two tall water heaters were kept in the room beside a large petroleum-based boiler. The water pumping through the pipes also fed two dynamo turbine engines that supplied power to some of the structures in the complex. Meanwhile, the ocean side of the structure served as a single-story venue called Hanly's Salt Water Baths, which featured hot tubs that were warmer than the pool.

Postcard of the Neptune Casino complex with the powerhouse structure at far left (with a smokestack), 1904.
In June 1906, Swanton's venture 1904 investment burned to the ground, destroying Neptune Casino, the 1893 Plunge, and the Neptune Baths which had been relocated across the street and repurposed as a restaurant. Two structures did survive, however: the powerhouse/Hanly Baths and the Skate Rink, which was redesigned as the long-running Fun House attraction. Swanton reincorporated his organisation as the Santa Cruz Beach Company and began work on a new entertainment complex in Fall 1906. He hired famed architect William Henry Weeks to design the facility, which was completed in time for the 1907 Summer season. Weeks may have also been responsible for a short annex that was added to the ocean side of Hanly's Baths, which was in place no later than 1917.

Sanborn map showing the second complex, with (from left) the Casino, Plunge, Hanly Baths, and Fun House, 1917.
[UC Santa Cruz Digital Collections]
Hanly Baths beside Walkway 2, early c. 1920s.
[Images of America: Santa Cruz, California]
The oceanside hot tub facility became known as Hanly's Salt Water Baths in 1902, which probably marks the date the extension was added to the powerhouse. Mary Jane Hanly was an English nurse who offered, in addition to the baths, paediatric, medical, and message services at the facility. She continued to operate her tub baths at the Boardwalk until 1924, when she moved to a new building at the intersection of Bay Street and West Cliff Drive. Her new location eventually became the city's first hospital, originally as Hanly Hospital, and then later as Sisters Hospital once the Adrian Dominican Sisters took over the facility. As seen in the photograph at right, circa the early 1920s, the structure received a facelift to better match Weeks' architectural style, although this did not happen immediately since photographs from the late 1900s still show onion domes on the structure. The shadow of the annex structure can also be detected, although the specific design of this structure cannot be confirmed during this period due to a lack of available photographs.

The east side of the second Casino complex with the Hanly's Baths at left (with smokestack) and the Fun House at right.
Skee-Roll Arcade in the early 1930s. [Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk]
It is this annex that would eventually become Skee-Roll Arcade and it is likely that it served such a purpose from nearly the beginning. In the earliest years, the building was probably used for a few simple carnival-style dexterity games, but as the boardwalk was extended to the east, it likely became exclusively a skee-ball arcade. Skee-Roll, or more commonly skee-ball, was invented in 1909 by J. Dickinson Este in Philadelphia. Skee-ball alleys became popular across the country after the first one opened in 1914. The Boardwalk's alley opened in the Hanly's Baths annex around 1918 under the management of concessionaire Ed "Doc" Reicher.

Postcard of Skee-Roll Arcade in c. 1958. Note the smokestack still visible on the back building. [Major Pepperidge]
Skee-Roll Arcade remained virtually unchanged for most of its existence. Doc Reicher introduced skee-roll into the county and continued to run the arcade for the next sixteen years. In 1934, he sold his entire operation to Charles J. FitzSimmons, whose family ran it for thirty years until Charles retired. It was FitzSimmons who replaced the original skee-ball machines with the industry standard Philadelphia Toboggan Company machines, a few of which survive at the Boardwalk today. A young Charles Laurence Canfield, son of Santa Cruz Seaside Company president Laurence Canfield, purchased FitzSimmons's concession and founded C.L. Canfield Concessions in 1965, continuing to operate Skee-Roll Arcade as a part of his operations until 1994. In that year, the company was merged into the Seaside Company and renamed the Games Department.

The Vault and Skee-Roll (externally-named Prize Center), c2013.
The false front façade for Desperados, 2009.
Since the 1960s, other game machines began appearing in the arcade, but the development of ticket-dispensing games around 1978 signalled a change in the make-up of the arcade, eventually pushing the skee-ball games to just a corner of the room. In 2008, the arcade was closed for the first time and was replaced by Desperados Western Shootout, an interactive theatre-based shoot-out game. The entire exterior was changed, as well, with an Old West façade placed over the 90-year-old Weeks-style architecture. During this time, the name Skee-Roll moved to the Great Auto Race location two doors to the east. The Desperados attraction failed to attract sufficient revenue and shut down in September 2010. It reopened as Skee-Roll once again in Spring 2011 with only four skee-ball games still inside, two of which were originals.

The rear of the second Casino complex prior to the 1911 construction of the Casa del Rey Hotel.
The powerhouse is visible at far left beside the Plunge.
Meanwhile, the oldest part of the structure, the old powerhouse beside the railroad tracks, began its slow evolution into the Boardwalk Operations Office. By 1917, the space was being used for storage, its function as a boiler room ending with the destruction of the Neptune Plunge it once serviced. The boilers for the new Plunge were installed more covertly under the building, although the holding tanks remained on the east side of the old powerhouse and the structure may have continued to be used for some Plunge-related services. When the Santa Cruz Seaside Company was founded in December 1915 to replace Swanton's bankrupt corporation, it was a disorganised and relatively uninvolved company and remained so until Laurence Canfield took over in 1952. Thus, this structure was probably not used by the company until the 1950s at the earliest. Doc Reicher was probably the first to use this building as offices, although it was undoubtedly FitzSimmons who first built the somewhat rickety second-floor concessions offices on the east side of the building. Canfield Concessions and, later, the Games Department continued to use these offices until early 2012 when they relocated to the new Haunted Castle building.  The remainder of the second floor, built with more consideration, was probably completed in the late 1950s when the Operations Office finally moved to the building. Multiple rooms upstairs and downstairs were subdivided creating a functional and modern work environment. A portion of the old Hanly's Baths building was also carved away and converted into a Nurse Station for injured guests. Indeed, this portion of the building was probably converted quite early and may be the last functional remnant of the original baths. Operations, the Nurse Station, Occupational Health & Safety, and Ticket Sales & Parking all relocated to the Haunted Castle in early 2012. The Receiving Office, the last operations unit in the structure, moved in 2014.

Aerial view of the powerhouse building (on left) and the Fun House (right) in its most complete state, 1965.
[UC Santa Cruz Digital Collection]
Between 1931 and 1943, the former entrance to Hanly's Baths was boxed in, creating a longer passageway between the street and the boardwalk proper. This was little annex probably added by FitzSimmons since it was under him that the Boardwalk added Pokerino and Bing-o-Rino ball-rolling games. Usually considered gambling machines, these games became staples of first FitzSimmons's and then Canfield's games operations at the Boardwalk. The winners of these games were given tickets that could be redeemed for prizes and many of the tickets survive today, unused. This gallery was entirely sealed off from its neighbor except for one door at back – the old Hanly's Baths main entrance door – and a employee door into the larger arcade. This arcade remained separate and in place until 2008 when it became the lobby for Desperados. When Desperados closed in 2010, it was converted into The Vault Lazer Maze Challenge and remained that until the building closed in September 2016.

The trackside view of the former powerhouse building, with the former Foods and Rides Offices and Whiting's Games buildings at left, June 2016. [Google Street View]
Secondly, two entirely new annexes were added to the east of the building and attached by various means to the main structure and to the Fun House. By 1943, this merger was complete and there was a fluidity between the seaside façades of the structures that ran from Walkway 2 to the end of the Fun House. Both structures were already in place by 1928, as can be seen on an aerial flight of that year. The portion closest to the former Fun House may have originally served as an expansion not to the powerhouse building but rather to the Fun House itself, although that connection was certainly severed by 1973, when the Fun House was demolished, if not earlier. Its street side was made of plain panelled wood with a low second floor for offices, while the ocean side featured an Art Deco façade. The interior of the building was eventually split down the middle. The westernmost half was further subdivided perpendicularly, with the trackside part reserved in later years for the Area 2 Rides Offices, an employee lounge, and restrooms, and the seaside part primarily the home of the Great Auto Race game (also called Roll-A-Ball), which was operated by Canfield Concessions from 1965 onwards. When Desperados was built in 2008, a tiny version of the Skee-Roll Arcade replaced Roll-A-Ball and the latter game relocated to beside the Milk Bottles carnival game, where it still remains. In 2011, a new carnival game was installed at the location, Stinky Feet, which remained in place until the demolition of the building in 2016. All the offices, meanwhile, moved to the new Haunted Castle building in early 2012 and the area was converted into the Boardwalk Party Room

The Clown Toss game in action, 2014.
The other part of the building, that closest to the former Fun House, was the original site of James O'Connor's shooting gallery, which began operations in the mid-1920s. O'Connor used live .22 caliber bullets to shoot moving targets downrange. In 1946, he sold the operation to Joseph Ross Whiting, who founded Whiting's Games. When his son, Edward, took over the company in 1972, he replaced the shooting gallery with the significantly safer midway game, Clown Toss, which continued in an unchanged state until the demolition of the building. Ed sold his assets to the Seaside Company in January 2014, which then took over daily operations. The former Whitings corporate offices, which sat behind and above Clown Toss, were subsequently abandoned.

The short-lived 3D Fun House which operated on the Boardwalk from 2000 to 2002. Roll-A-Ball can be seen beside it.
[Santa Cruz Seaside Company]
Fright Walk, which replaced the Fun House in 2003.
The second annex, squeezed between the two others, showcased an Art Deco style on both sides of the building, although the reason for why the streetside differed stylistically so drastically from its eastern neighbor is not unknown. It is the narrowest annex, too, and its addition necessitated the truncation of the adjacent powerhouse and baths buildings. The structure was divided into a large rectangular room on the oceanside with two small offices on the backside, suggesting that this was originally designed as a store for a concessionaire, although which is unknown at this time. From 1982 until 1999 it was utilised as the Pirates' Den Arcade, the Boardwalk's first formal box console gaming arcade that was designed to complement the theme of the new Jack Flint's Pirate Ship ride across from it. The Boardwalk's Food Services Department was likely formed around this time as well and it moved into the former concession offices in back. In 2000, Pirates' Den was replaced with the 3D Fun House, a loony attraction that was as much scary as it was fun. This prompted a redesign in 2003 as the Fright Walk, an attraction that remained in place until the end of Summer 2016.

Concept art for the new design of the entrance area, replacing the older structures in July 2017.
[Santa Cruz Seaside Company]
Skee-Roll building being demolished, September 18, 2016.
[Wai-ling Quist]
Since 2006, there have been growing whispers that the old buildings would finally be demolished and replaced with something spectacular. Over the decades, the piecemeal structures had become leaky and creaky, and they were very haphazardly maintained with questionable safety standards. Except for the seaside attractions and games and some overflow ticket booths installed on the track side, the Boardwalk essentially abandoned the building when all of its operations offices were centralised in the Haunted Castle in February-March 2012. The old building had always exuded a low-quality air about it, lowering the standard of the entire Boardwalk, and the trackside façades were ugly, inconsistent, and generally something the park wanted to remove. Still, the buildings persisted until designs were finalised for a truly magnificent, $12 million new entryway which, for the first time ever, will give the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk a real entrance (the relatively new entrance beside the Carousel notwithstanding). The Vault Lazer Maze and a new Fright Walk will both return beside other midway games and a new food venue, but gone will be any trace of the oldest buildings on the Boardwalk. Celebrating their 124th summer seasons, the former Neptune Plunge powerhouse and the Hanly's Baths buildings truly need to be demolished and removed, but their importance to the history of Santa Cruz County should not be so readily forgotten.

Citations & Credits:
  • Beal, Chandra Moira and Richard. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: The Early Years – Never a Dull Moment. Pacific Group, 2003.
  • Gomez, Phil. "Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk getting a makeover", August 31, 2016.
  • Machado, Gay. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: A Century by the Sea. Ten Speed Press, 2007.
  • "New! Boardwalk Main Entrance & Plaza Project". Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 2016.
  • O'Hare, Sheila, and Irene Berry. Images of America: Santa Cruz, California. Arcadia, 2002.
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Arcades & Games Department staff, especially Barbara Phillips, Sue Hottel, Sylvia Castellanos, and Anilu Reyes.
  • Santa Cruz Seaside Company. Corporate archives.
  • University of California, Santa Cruz. Library Map Collections and Aerial Photograph Collections.
  • Whiting, Ted, Jr. Personal correspondence.