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, November 25, 2016

Cannery Row: California Packing Corporation

Poorly-colorized postcard showing crews sorting
fish near the Pacific Fish Co. pier, c. 1910s. 
The California Packing Corporation, located just south of Hoffman Avenue on Cannery Row, is the second oldest sardine canning business in Monterey and the oldest on the Row. In 1902, Harry Malpas and Otosuburo Noda founded the Monterey Fishing & Canning Company in the area then known as "New Monterey". Despite generous funding by local Japanese fishing families, Malpas faltered early in his pursuits and was never able to compete with the more-successful F. E. Booth company located near the wharf. In August 1908, Malpas closed his cannery and the seaside refinery began its long transient life. James Madison and Joseph Nichols took over the operation and replaced virtually everything there, bringing it to then-modern standards and rebranding the operation as the Pacific Fish Company, Inc. Unlike its predecessor, the Pacific Fish Company was able to compete well with Booth and the operators convinced many of the local fishermen to deal with them on equal footing. They also used Japanese and Italian labour, as well as the new lampara net, on their fishing vessels, which greatly increased their output. To support the cannery, it even built a short pier to make deliveries to the facility easier. By the mid-1920s, Pacific Fish was one of the most successful canneries in Monterey.

Pacific Fish Company cannery, 1909. [Monterey's Waterfront]
Fish processing was hands-on in 1909, when this photograph
was taken in the Pac-Fish plant. [Monterey's Waterfront]
It was under their control that railroad access was extended to the cannery. Pac-Fish build a mid-sized, two-story warehouse across from their seaside cannery in the late 1910s. It was connected to the cannery by an elevated conveyor, like many of the canneries used to transport finished products over Ocean View Avenue. Southern Pacific Railroad first build a siding that accessed this plant and the adjacent Carmel Canning Company warehouse in the early 1920s. An angled, wooden platform was built behind the warehouse to access the tracks and make loading easier.

Canning label for Del Monte-brand California sardines, packed by Pacific Fish Co., c. 1920s.
Women working the line at CalPak, 1949.
[Monterey's Waterfront]
In 1926, the California Packing Corporation (known today as Del Monte Foods, Inc.), headquartered in San Diego, purchased the entire operation and added it to its roster of dozens of packing plants located across California and beyond. By that point, Pac-Fish had already done extensive upgrades to the facility, merging structures seamlessly together into one massive complex. CalPak further upgraded the buildings and expanded the warehouse substantially in 1938. Two additional warehouses were added to the complex beside the old warehouse, and the railroad tracks were realigned. A dedicate northward-exiting spur ran behind all three warehouses, with a long wooden platform flanking the length of it. The southernmost warehouse had its own elevated conveyor that linked to a reduction plant located across the road. This reduction plant, as well as a second canning house and a chemical laboratory, were added to increase efficiency and keep production consistent with the newer, more modernised neighbours. John Steinbeck's friend, Edward "Doc" Ricketts, sometimes worked in this lab on commission.

Street scene outside the California Packing Corporation plant (at right), c. 1930s. [Fine Art America]
The vacant California Packing Corporation cannery, 1966. [Pat Hathaway]
This cannery, the first opened on the Row, was also one of the last to close. Although the fishing industry had largely collapsed in the late 1940s, the reputation and innovations of CalPak allowed it to survive for almost 15 more years. A fire on October 21, 1948, scorched the northern half of the cannery, but the bulk of the facility survived and the damaged parts were repaired or rebuilt (meanwhile, the adjacent Carmel Canning Company was burned to the ground). The cannery only shut its doors in April 1962 and CalPak immediately sold everything it could to a Puerto Rican tuna company. Meanwhile, the old cannery buildings deteriorated. Although they survived the fires that destroyed the buildings to the south, the entire complex burned down on January 26, 1973, leaving nothing behind but foundations and a few buried tanks.

The California Packing Corporation fire of January 1973. [Pat Hathaway]

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
507, 570 Cannery Row
36.614˚N, 121.899˚ W

Today, nothing is left of the California Packing Corporation warehouse or cannery. The warehouse site is now occupied by the northern end of the long parking lot on the west side of the Row south of El Torito. The ruins on the property just south of the Mexican Restaurant are those of the California Packing Corporation.

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, November 18, 2016

Cannery Row: Del Mar Canning Company

The large site to the south of Edward "Doc" Rickett's lab on Cannery Row has a long and perilous history. Originally a simple Chinese housing area associated with the better-known adjacent McAbee Beach, in 1916 the Bayside Fish & Flour Company built a small reduction plant at the site. This Japanese-run company operated throughout World War I and well into the 1920s before it was purchased in 1927 by the Cypress Canning Company. Within a year, however, it was transferred to Edward David, who founded the Del Mar Canning Company. David made a few additions to his cannery over the next decade, but disaster haunted the site and first struck on November 24, 1936, when the entire complex burned to the ground. Other casualties included the Sardine Products Company cannery, two warehouses, the Cypress Fisheries reduction plant, and Doc Rickett's lab. Damage was estimated at $750,000 and firefighters were called from all over the Monterey Peninsula to help suppress it. It was the biggest fire since the Associated Oil Pier fire in 1924.

Del Mar Canning Company fire of 1936. [Monterey Fire Department]
Left with cinders, ruins, and a large vacant property, David rebuilt and expanded his operation to both sides of the street. He built a modern cannery along the waterfront that rivaled Hovden in size. Composed of a primary cannery building, an adjacent warehouse, and a second warehouse across the street connected by an elevated conveyor, this facility was cutting edge. A late addition was a two-story, largely-detached reduction plant appended to the southern warehouse. The cannery, primary warehouse, and reduction plant all featured Spanish-style roofs and faux-stucco walls, which were plastered atop corrugated steel and simple wood frames. It created an impressive street-front, even if it largely resembled the other nearby buildings in style.

Del Mar Canning Company, aerial view, 1937.
Across the street, a less-picturesque two-story warehouse was erected between Ocean View Avenue and the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch right-of-way. A long, southward-exiting spur had been installed behind the warehouse site since at least 1926 when the Bayside Cannery still owned the site. By the 1930s, the Del Mar Cannery shared the spur with the adjacent Monterey Canning Company. It accessed the track via a long loading platform that ran the length of the structure. Since the entire complex was later destroyed, no remnant of this platform survives, and even the right-of-way for the spur has since been built over.

Del Mar Canning Company, 1945. [Monterey Public Library]
The depletion of the sardine breeding grounds after World War II led David to sell the Del Mar Cannery in 1947 to Westgate-Sun Harbor Canning Company, which continued the operation until December 8, 1951, when a second fire seriously damaged the complex again. The two warehouses were destroyed, with fire running down the elevated access-way that connected them, expediting the process. Firefighters managed to successfully defend the three tanks of fish oil stored nearby, saving the primary cannery and the reduction plant, as well as protecting other nearby buildings. $1.8 million in damages was accrued from this fire, and another fire in 1952 further damaged the remaining structures of the complex, leading to the demolition of the cannery itself. By 1962, the cannery site was entirely vacant except for the reduction plant, which sat idle.

Westgate-Sun Harbor Canning Company warehouses burning down, 1951. [Monterey Fire Department]
The small, detached plant was eventually purchased and repaired by new owners. Over the years, the building was upgraded and its façade was restored to its original stucco design, with significant alterations. The interior was gutted to make room for a restaurant. In the late-1990s, the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. took over operations of the location and continues to operate a restaurant in the former cannery structure today. No other trace of this cannery survives and recent developments have erased any archaeological remains that had sat at the vacant sites for so many decades.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
720, 750, 756 Cannery Row
36.617˚N, 901˚ W

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company with the InterContinental Hotel beside it.
The only structure that survives of the Del Mar Canning Company is the reduction plant that is now the site of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The adjacent InterContinental The Clement Hotel was built in the early 2000s and is situated atop the site of the cannery itself, which was demolished after the 1952 fire. Across the street atop the site of the two warehouses destroyed in the 1951 fire is an extension of the InterContinental Hotel, accessible from the main hotel via a newly-constructed second-floor overwalk. The hotel hosts a number of businesses on its ground floor including Nestle Toll House Café, the Monterey Mirror Maze, the Scheid Vineyards Wine Lounge, the Carmel Yacht Club, Z Folio Gallery, Sunglass Hut, California Classics, and the Shen Design Studio.

Citations & Credits:
  • Adkins, Jan Batiste. Images of America: African Americans of Monterey County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2015.
  • 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.
  • Ventimiglia, Mike. Images of America: Monterey Fire Department. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Curiosities: The Casa del Rey Hotel & Apartments

When the Southern Pacific Railroad purchased the Santa Cruz Railroad in 1881, activity on the Santa Cruz main beach was still pretty slim. But the coming of the railroad brought in thousands of passengers, especially once the more direct route over the mountains was leased in 1887. Suddenly, the potential for Santa Cruz to become a tourist destination was assured. Fred W. Swanton, an early investor in the city, jumped at the opportunity by building a huge casino and tent city complete on the beach in 1904. When tragedy struck and destroyed it, he rebuilt like crazy, employing William Henry Weeks to build a new Casino, Plunge Natatorium, and Cottage City to replace what was lost. By 1907, all three were thriving, but things were quickly changing in the tourist market.

The multi-colored Cottage City built across from the Casino, 1907. [Vaughn's Summaries]
By 1910, the large, sprawling Cottage City was falling behind modern trends. Because of the advent of the automobile, it was becoming more fashionable to visit summer locales for shorter periods of time than before. People had things to do—they could no longer waste away the summer months relaxing in Santa Cruz. And the Cottage City was built to cater to just such an audience. Something had to change and Swanton knew the solution.

Construction on the Casa del Rey Hotel, early 1911. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]
The remnant Cottage City tucked behind the shadow of the Casa del Rey.
As his last major action as company financier, Swanton decided in 1910 to build a massive hotel complex he christened CASA DEL REY (House of the King). It was built via the architectural prowess of George Applegarth directly across from the Casino and was one of the most state-of-the-art structures in Santa Cruz County. Roughly half of the cottage city was relocated or dismantled to make room for the three-story colossal, fire-proof structure. The building was done in the most spectacular Spanish-revival style, with Pueblo-style vigas and a brilliant triple-arched bridge that crossed over street and railroad track to the Casino. Ornamental columns decorated the main entrance and a terra cotta trim along the roofline completed the look of the bastion. The final building was 335 feet by 135 feet (100,000 square feet total) that fronted Cliff Street. it included 300 rooms, 200 baths, two Italian gardens, private telephones in each room, guest elevators, rich furniture and tapestries, and a grand lobby. Outside beside the remnant Cottage City was a high-class restaurant, a tennis court, gardens, and a bandstand. The hotel also had direct railroad and streetcar service and operated a private golf course on the modern-day site of Pogonip park. It was a palace for a royal court and it made the Sea Beach Hotel two blocks away on Main Street look like a thing of the past. The fire that destroyed it the next year confirmed the dominance of the Casa del Rey on the beachfront.

The Casa del Rey Hotel soon after opening. Postcard dated July 29, 1911. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]
The Casa del Rey opened for business on May 1, 1911, although the grand opening celebrations were reserved for June 3. The final bill for the hotel was $500,000 (approx. $12.25 million in today's money) and the hotel was completely book that summer. Fireworks and music accompanied the grand opening. Swanton was an excellent promotions manager, if nothing else, and only months after the new hotel opened, the Southern Pacific Railroad's Sunset Magazine published the following advertising the new hostelry's merits:
Advertisement, 1911.
"You turn a sudden corner, and see it looming ahead like a long battleship painted for times of peace, and berthed in the drydock of this sheltered swale—a battleship with ports from stem to stern for the black out thrust snouts of her gunnage; at second glance, it is a high rampart with a single merlon of three loopholes—an armed and double-arched wall for defense; descending, it proves to be what it looks—a fortification, the last in a chain of such that reaches from San Diego to the Golden Gate. For here, in the mountain-and-sea-town of Santa Cruz, and built so as to block the narrow way between roadstead and forest-slope, is another of those citadels equipped against the lack of everything necessary, desirable, convenient and entertaining. This is the Casa del Rey—and the ink is scarcely dry on the first pages of its muster-roll. 
"It is new—so new that the ivy is only just getting a first grasp on rough bright walls where, by the simple alchemy of paint, the sun (even on the grayest of sea-days) seems constantly to be striking. But for all its newness you have an instinctive feeling of romance toward this red-tiled building of Spanish design. No matter from which part of the state you hail, it will suggest some bell-walled mission, or some story of early days. And you think it would be the most natural thing in the world to see come out through its wide entrance a brown-cowled Brother of the White Cord 
"Casa del Rey Lobby, Santa Cruz, Cal." – postcard, 1930s. 
"You enter "the garden-room"—long and wide and high; glass-walled on two sides; built up, across a third, with a massive deep-throated fireplace. This is the room of the double garden. For turning right or left one sees—by a purpose of the builders that is inspirational—a patio, full of yellow light, musical with the tinkle of a fountain, splashed with the purples and crimsons of luxuriant bloom. 
One of the double gardens and the "garden-room" of the Casa del Rey, 1911. [Sunset Magazine]
"There are rooms above—two rectangles of them. The outer ones look upon mountains, town and sea. In these one sleeps under the guns, with the roar of the breakers booming against the windows and mingling with the joyous piping of children and early bathers. There is a second rectangle that commands the patios, and to these (all garden-rooms in themselves) the beat of the surf comes only dully, and voices not at all. But the great "garden-room" will charm the guests from them all. Here, on sunny days, is grateful coolness, the restful play of water after the boom of the sea, and green growth. When the fog is in, or a storm sweeps down from Loma Prieta, here is warmth, and bloom and brightness in the patios. And in the huge grate is springing the scarlet flowers of a fire.
"Gardens and Putting Green, Casa del Rey Hotel, Santa Cruz, Calif. – 6 miles from The Big Trees" – postcard, c. 1930s
"But the Casa del Rey is a house of double-gardens in a larger sense. For Santa Cruz, with a temperature that varies little from season to season, opens her doors one way against the mountains, and the other way into the sea. Thus, in the same hour, she offers all the pleasures of beach and bay as well as those that can be found in torrent-filled gorge and forest-covered steeps. 
"What a recreation-place for those families that are divided in their tastes respecting the outdoors! As well as for those other families who like variety during a vacation however long or limited! Turn left, and you tread on the foam-ruffled skirts of the sea; turn right, and you step on the fern-embroidered edge of the forest. 
"Arch Connecting Casino and Casa Del Rey Hotel, Santa Cruz, Calif." – postcard, c. 1915
"Turn left! A triple-arched bridge leads away from the "garden-room" to the Casino, the ocean-breezes, the sand and the deep salt. The Casino is a mammoth playhouse, Arabic in its gay towers and coloring, and with an arcaded front to the water. In "winter" you breakfast in "the garden-room" of the Casa, before a crackling blaze; but in summer you cross by bridge to a grill that commands the bay. Here within sound of surf one may eat, drink and be merry. There is a glassed-in room for those diners who prefer indoors; an open balcony for those who like the wind fluttering in their sleeves. There is a "sun-room" to rest in, high over the gay beach; there is a polished floor and a tireless band for the hours after dinner. 
"Dining, dancing, music, tennis, wading, bathing, boating, fishing, riding, rambling paths that follow the cliffs, resting in the warm sand—these, and more, are the pleasures offered at the end of the high arched bridge.
"Face right! With the sea glimmering at your back; with the Casa del Rey and its flanking "cottage city" out of sight in the sheltered hollow; with scarce a gilded cupola of the Casino showing, there opens a fresh world of delight. For you pass from the riot of color, gay laughter and splashing—to the heart of a redwood forest! 
"Other sea-towns of the West have mountains behind them. Are they such mountains as these?—opal in the near distance; a crisp green close at hand, where a wilderness of Christmas trees, giants and pigmies, life themselves tremulous with life. 
A streetcar and early automobiles parked outside the Casa del Rey, late 1910s.
"You make your "next-day" plans at night, looking out from under the bannered wall of Casa del Rey. It is a moonlight night, or, better still, there are only the stars. Left, over the oriental silhouette of the Casino, you can see the lights of a far-off passing steamer; right, looking mountainward, the yellow lights among the redwoods that are the beacons of camps on distant cañon-sides. Beyond the seaboard the ship's-bell is striking; from the mountain sound the bells of a "freighter" that is coming down from the long divide.
"Which way, at sun-up, will you go? Will you answer to the call of the ocean—that one voice ceaselessly booming? Will you go where a pipe-organ, keyed by the wind and choired by the birds, forever plays in the lofty roof of the forest? 
"The House of the Double Garden—in a double sense! It is gardened within, to right and left by its patios: it is gardened to right and left without. On one hand is the garden of the mountains, cool, mysterious, fragrantly inviting; on the other is the doubly mysterious, mist-brushed, changeful garden of the sea."
Ford Model Ts of all shapes and sizes parked outside the Casa del Rey, 1920s. [Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk]
"Hotel Casa del Rey at the Beach, Santa Cruz, California; one of the well-known
resort hotels of the Pacific Coast." – postcard, late 1940s. [CardCow]
Over the subsequent decades, much changed at the Casa del Rey, but much stayed the same, as well. The Santa Cruz Beach Company went bankrupt because of the hotel project and the entire Boardwalk complex was taken over by the city briefly before the Santa Cruz Seaside Company was founded in December 1915 to manage day-to-day operations. They struggled to make a profit until the waning years of the Great Depression finally brought hesitant vacationers back to the Central Coast, but the hotel was always one of its more successful ventures.

"Casa del Rey Apts, Santa Cruz Cal." – postcard, c. 1930. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]
Over the decades, the Seaside Company continued to expand the facility. The paving of Glenwood Highway in 1921 and then Beach Street in 1928 meant that more people could directly access the Boardwalk at their leisure. In response, the Seaside Company built in 1926, only a block away from the hotel, the Casa del Rey Apartments under the direction of architect William C. Hays. This was another Spanish-revival-style structure with a more intimate theme. Unlike the main hotel, the forty multi-level apartments were intended for visitors who wished to remain on the seaside a bit longer. It also included ocean-view luxury suites that were impossible to include at the larger hotel. Much like the Casa del Rey, these apartments featured two interior courtyards with gardens accessible only to guests.

"The Casa Del Rey Hotel, 300 modern rooms of hospitality located in a Spanish garden at the beach in
Santa Cruz, California" – postcard, c. 1928. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]
Behind the main hotel, the Spanish Gardens opened up on March 31, 1928. Another half of the remnant Cottage City was demolished to make room for this expansion, but the cottages were quickly losing their appeal in the age of the automobile. Besides the plants and trees, a glass solarium and playground were added to the gardens, as well as a Spanish and French café and tea pavilion. In February 1932, management of the hotels, as well as the Palomar and St. George in downtown, were merged to make organizing local events easier to manage. The new proprietors, J. Vance, Gifford L Troyer, and W. C. Troyer, also leased the Bay Room ball room of the Casino and operated them as a year-round conference center and entertainment venue.

"Guests lounge in the quiet seclusion of Hotel Casa Del Rey's celebrated Spanish gardens. Adjoining the gardens are the Hotel's croquet and championship tennis courts, which are maintained for the added pleasure of guests." – Postcard, c. 1950.
[Santa Cruz Public Libraries]
When the United States entered World War II, the Casa del Rey was leased to the military for use as a naval hospital, while the adjacent plunge was turned into a physical therapy center during certain times of the day. Even the apartments were given over to the military, housing 250 men by the end of the war. At the same time, permanent residents began moving into the apartments, mostly local businessmen working in some capacity for the Seaside Company.

"Overlooking the blue Pacific in the sunny vacation land of Santa Cruz, California"
– Casa del Rey Hotel and Casino postcard, late 1940s. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]
"Located at the Beac, Santa Cruz, California" – postcard, late 1940s. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]
The first Suntan Special returning after World War II had ended, 1947. The Casa del Rey Apartments are at left, and
in the distance one can see the bridge between the Casino and the Casa del Rey Hotel. [Fred Stoes]
In many ways, the war ruined both the hotel and apartments as popular tourist hostelries. The apartments went first, being purchased in 1944 by George Holland where it began to be run as an up-scale tenant-style apartment complex. A later owner, Dr. Allegrini, renamed them the La Bahia Apartments in 1964, who turned them into short-term lease apartments, although many of the previous tenants remained in select rooms. Under the management of Harry Stutz, La Bahia suffered and fell into a rapid decline, forcing the Santa Cruz Seaside Company to buy back the former hotel in 1983. Since then, it has primarily served as UCSC student housing and as a home to seasonal work-and-travel employees. Plans to upgrade, expand, or replace the building have been a constant but nothing has been done to revitalize this increasingly decaying representative of the Spanish-revival style.

La Bahia Apartments building, 2015. [Apostolis Giontzis]
Demolition of the Casa del Rey, 1989. [Pinterest]
The main hotel suffered greatly in the aftermath of World War II and it never entirely recovered. More of the cottage city was removed in 1942 to make room for parking. In 1952, the Seaside Company demolished the Spanish arch bridge over the road and tracks as the first in a series of improvements to the Casino structure. A restaurant workers strike in 1953 helped kill the conference trade briefly, and then the great Santa Cruz flood of 1955 damaged the local economy for many years as businesses fought to recover. The beautiful forest-speckled river-frontage of the Boardwalk was replaced with a dry flat area to the south surrounded by high river dike walls to protect from future floods. Property values plummeted in the beach area and the remaining cottages were shoved into a corner of the Casa del Rey property and their former locations and the gardens were replaced with five acres of parking lots. Although the Boardwalk itself remained seasonally popular, people no longer wished to stay in the increasingly violent area overnight. By the 1970s, the hotel had become a retirement home, but the Seaside Company was phasing out its last tenants in 1989 when the Loma Prieta Earthquake permanently crippled the structure. Although built to withstand all sorts of common building fires, the Casa del Rey had no defense against earthquakes and had been fortunate to survive 78 years without encountering one. But the damage was done and the Seaside Company was forced to demolish the ageing hotel soon afterwards.

The Casa del Rey Hotel after the Loma Prieta Earthquake collapsed a main wall, November 1989. [Vester Dick]
The history of the Casa del Rey Hotel is one fraught with unforeseen disaster. Its building in 1911 bankrupted Swanton and led to the transfer of his company to the Seaside Company in 1915. The hotel survived and even thrived through the 1920s and 1930s, but the war effort stretched its capacities and the flood of 1955 ruined many of its merits. Both it and its apartments passed through various owners and proprietors over the decades but neither ever thrived again. The hotel, succumbing to structural misfortune, disappeared from history in 1989, its only remnants being two large palm trees that once flanked the triple-arches over Beach Street. La Bahia survives, for now, but its future remains uncertain as it slowly rots away, lost to the politiking of the city and state.

Citations & Credits:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Cannery Row: F.E. Booth Reduction Plant & Edgewater Packing Company

Near the end of Prescott Avenue on the south side of the road stands two equally historic warehouses sandwiched between the former Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch right-of-way and Wave Street. The older of these, a three-story brick structure, dominates the surroundings, putting its smaller, quasi-art deco neighbor to shame. Yet both were once a part of the sprawling Edgewater Packing Company complex. In 1917, local sardine magnate Frank E. Booth decided to erect a reduction plant near the main Cannery Row industrial center in order to convert fish offal into fertilizer. His cannery, the first in Monterey, was located beside the wharf a mile to the south, but real estate was at a premium in the area and the cost of transporting the fish product to a reduction plant was minimal. It was also one of the first such plants on the Row. Because it was detached from the cannery, it did not need direct ocean access, so it was built one block inland, becoming one of the first cannery complexes on Wave Street. The massive brick structure was built in a similar style to most of the contemporary canneries, with a false-front roof on both its street-side facades and lightly stylized patterns surrounding the entrances and windows. The placement of this plant was no accident: the railroad tracks passing to the east of it were used to both import goods from the main Booth cannery and to export them out to market. By 1926, a significant freight spur with a southbound exit had been installed behind the plant and serviced Booth's cannery exclusively.

Wave Street entrance to the Edgewater Packing Company building during remodeling, 2007.
Around 1945, the Booth company sold the reduction plant to the Edgewater Packing Company, one of the many new operations that opened along the Row during and immediately after World War II. Over the next year, the reduction plant was heavily upgraded and nearly tripled in size via the architectural talents of Robert R. Jones, who added a wood-frame extension to the south of the original brick structure. This architectural style of this new building was a mixture of pre-1930s themes and Art Deco, the latter most obvious through its stuccoed exterior and whitewash with trim. Large windows fronted Wave Street while a significant freight platform was built at the rear of the building to better utilize the railroad tracks.

The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail entrance to the Edgewater Packing Company building, c. 2005. [Fine Art America]
The latter company was closed no later than 1962, when a Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map showed the new structure as a lumber shed and the older structure as vacant. By this point, however, parts of Cannery Row were already being converted into a retail district. Both buildings outlasted their neighbors and became historical icons on Cannery Row as the only remaining brick-built industrial structure and wood-build warehouse. At some point in the early 1970s, the stucco warehouse was refurbished and turned into an arcade, Old Tyme Photo Emporium, restaurant, and retail outlet named Oscar Hossenfellder's Edgewater Packing Company, which hosted a 1905 Herschell-Spillman Carousel as its centerpiece. The arcade was replaced with a Laser Tag arena in the 1990s. Both attractions and the shops were removed in the mid-2000s during renovations. The adjacent reduction plant was converted into retail space in the 1980s. In 2007 the Monterey Music Cafe & Bar (M2CB) took over the upstairs portion of the building. Today, both structures remain examples of rare canning-era facilities that retain the look of their origins while embracing a second life.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
640-698 Wave Street
36.616˚N, 121.900˚ W

Both buildings remain open to the public and host popular tourist attractions. The reduction plant building is now home to the Cannery Row Brewing Company, which moved into the structure in 2010, replacing M2CB. Meanwhile, the IMAX 3D theatre that had occupied the former warehouse since 2007 was replaced in 2012 with a new Cinemark multiplex.

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.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cannery Row: Enterprise Packing Company

"Cannery Row" watercolor, by Art Riley, c. 1950s. [CalArt]
The South Cannery Row district was composed primarily of newer canneries that were opened due to the demand caused by World War II. One of the first of these late canneries was the Enterprise Packing Company, founded by Sebastian J. "Buster" Sollecito in 1945. Very little is known of this canning operation except that it did not remain in business for long. Built near the corner of Ocean View Avenue and Reeside Avenue, the facility consisted of a cannery on the bay-side connected by a second-floor conveyor to a warehouse along the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch tracks. The warehouse for this cannery was rather large and modern compared to many of its neighbors, being three stories in height with a large open wood facade in the center of the structure. Despite its short use, the cannery was able to arrange for a short, south-bound-exiting railroad spur behind its warehouse. Indeed, the back of the structure was built slightly at an angle to facilitate this spur, meaning the tracking was planned before construction began on the warehouse. It does not appear that there was a freight platform behind the warehouse, but if there was, all evidence of it has been erased. A third-story cargo-loading door, however, can still be seen from the former right-of-way.

Sardine can packaging label from Enterprise Packers, c. 1946.
Fire fighters working to extinguish the Enterprise Cannery fire, June 17, 1967. [Monterey Fire Department]
Enterprise Cannery burning down on the night of
June 17, 1967. [Monterey Fire Department]
Within two years of construction, Enterprise was flanked by two newer canneries, the Ronada Fisheries and Magnolia Packing Company to the north, and the California Fisheries Company to the south. This unfortunate arrangement lead to the cannery's eventual ruin. Soon after World War II ended, the sardine industry in Monterey dried up and Sollecito cut his losses, living a long retirement until his death in 2006. His company's buildings were rezoned for commercial uses. The warehouse became a three-story office building with retail space on the first floor. Over the years, it was remodeled and upgraded, but it still remains on the site today. The fate of the cannery building itself was that of most of the vacant buildings on the row: on June 17, 1967, a mysterious fire consumed the building, leveling it to the ground. Three firefighters were injured when the conveyor collapsed in the inferno.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
225-242 Cannery Row
36.611˚N, 121.897˚ W

The warehouse for the Enterprise Cannery remains at the original site today, although it now has a stucco facade atop its original concrete exterior. The wood-paneled offices, however, remain visible and accessible from the street. The only retail business in the building is BreakWater Scuba with some offices used on the upper floors. Three sides of the building are accessible, with the rear a stop along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail and a marine mural painted on the eastern facade. The site of the cannery is now occupied by the Monterey Bay Inn, which was erected on the vacant site in the early 1990s. None of the original cannery structure survives.

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.
  • Ventimiglia, Mike. Images of America: Monterey Fire Department. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

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.