Following the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, things began to pick up pace along Ocean View Avenue. City ordinances had forced the fishing industry to move from the crowded and smelly beach beside Fisherman's Wharf to this road, where the wind would pull out much (though certainly not all) of the bad odors. On St. Valentine's Day, 1908, the first major cannery—the Pacific Fish Company—began operations here. Growth was slow and decidedly low-budget in those first years, but increased demand prompted by World War I overcame all boundaries. The sardine industry in Monterey boomed and became the city's biggest industry, with over 1,400,000 cases of sardines shipped out in 1918. Many private spurs popped up in this period to cater to these canneries, but none of them were ever listed in Southern Pacific records because they were privately-owned and their cargos were registered at Monterey Depot. The stories of the individual cannery spurs, therefore, belongs elsewhere.
Throughout this time, the little Hoffman Avenue flag-stop struggled on through a rather unusual history. It disappeared from Agency Books completely in 1909 after being upgraded to a B-class station in 1907. The "B" status meant that the station included a freight platform and a siding or spur. The disappearance of the station would usually mean that it was gone permanently, except it continued to appear in employee timetables for another two decades. This suggests that the stop may have ceased its freight purposes entirely and became exclusively a flag-stop. Since it was the only flag-stop along what was nicknamed Cannery Row (the road would later be permanently named that in 1958), it undoubtedly catered to the workers that commuted to their job. Unfortunately, little is known of this stop and there was probably nothing at the stop worth photographing for posterity.
|Gas explosion at the Carmel Canning Company, 1946. (Press photo)|
|Custom House Packing Corporation fire, 24 October 1953. Photo by William L. Morgan (Monterey Public Library)|
Official Railroad Information:
The Hoffman Avenue station first appeared on timetables along the Pacific Grove Extension in 1889. It was listed as a full stop with scheduled service in 1890 but that schedule was removed from public timetables afterwards. During this time, Agency Books listed the stop as a class-D freight stop. It was upgraded to a class-B, implying the addition of a siding or spur and a freight platform, in 1907, but then the stop was removed entirely from Agency Books in 1909. What its status in employee timetables during this period is not known to this historian, but it was listed in 1928 at 126.9 miles from San Francisco via Castroville, Watsonville Junction, Gilroy, and San José. It was also 3.0 miles from the Lake Majella end-of-track. At this time, it was exclusively a passenger flag-stop. By 1937, the station was removed from all timetables and the stop disappeared permanently. The branch line continued to pass over Hoffman Avenue, catering to the various canneries in the area via private spurs and sidings, until the branch was truncated to Seaside in 1978.
Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
The site of Hoffman Avenue's stop is half-a-block up from Cannery Row on Hoffman Avenue where it intersects with the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. The Culinary Center of Monterey, a former cannery now attached via skybridge to a small shopping center, marks the nearest cannery to the stop. An old mail car and a caboose sit on the former right-of-way atop retained tracks about 100 feet to the north from Hoffman Avenue. The Caboose is a small store while the mail car is the now-closed Cannery Row Welcome Center. These may mark the site of the stop's siding or spur.
Citations & Credits:
- "Looking Back—The Canneries". Cannery Row, Monterey, California.
- Department of Parks and Recreation—Primary Records.