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Friday, July 22, 2016

Stations: Anderson Packing

When the California Central Railroad took over operations of the bankrupt San Juan Pacific Railway in 1912, they did so with the common understanding that the entire line would become freight-only. Still, the Old Mission Cement plant at the end of the line was not the only company to utilise the railroad. When the route went back into regular use in 1916, a new stop appeared just to the south of the former Canfield siding. Named by the railroad "Anderson Packing", the freight stop catered exclusively to George Howard Anderson's pear orchards and packing house which was conveniently positioned between the San Juan Highway and the railroad right-of-way.

Advertisement for Anderson pears, c. 1923.
The Anderson family traced its roots back to 1863 and John Zuiglius Anderson, an early American fruit grower in Santa Clara County. John had been the first to discover a method of transporting fruit between California and the East Coast without it spoiling. His eldest son, George, after operating a pear orchard in the Santa Clara Valley for many years, relocated the business to the San Benito Valley in 1907 while maintaining at least three other homes in San José, Seabright, and on Mission Street in Santa Cruz, as well as a hunting lodge near the Klamath River. Another brother, Alden, moved to the Sacramento area. He and his first wife, Susan M. Brown, had four children including George Howard Jr., Howard S., John Zuiglius Jr. (the future congressman for California's 8th District, 1939-1953), and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married Edward F. Pearce, the son of Judge E.A. Pearce, in 1942. The family was well-regarded and was influential enough to have many of its movements in Santa Cruz County tracked by the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Evening News. For example, their purchase of an automobile in 1910 was a notable moment, suggesting they were one of the first in the county to own such a vehicle. Susan died in 1913 at her Seabright home and George appears to have remarried to Clara, the daughter of James F. Simpson. Their family remained prominent in the newspapers throughout the 1910s and early 1920s. After 1913, George lived largely at their San Juan home. He died of a massive heart attack in September 1925 at San Juan after years of ill health. During the final years of his life, George had served on the California Fish & Game Commission as the representative for the San Francisco Division.

Anderson Packing Company advertisement for pears, c. 1920s.
The history of the Anderson pear orchard and packing house near San Juan Bautista is less known. It was certainly operating by 1910 and was thriving throughout the 1920s as evidenced by the large number of advertisements circulating from the time. When the railroad ceased operations in 1930, the business continued, at least until 1939 when Jack was elected to the House of Representatives. Very little is known about their railroad stop except that there appears to have been some form of packing house there and that the site likely had a siding. The pear shipments out of the orchard and the import of hay and fertiliser supplemented the income of the California Central in the spring and fall months and appear to have done so with an average of 42 carloads shipped out annually from the small pear operation. It is very likely that a platform and siding were installed at Anderson Packing, but these cannot be proven currently.

Official Railroad Information:
The California Central published few public documents that have survived and none are presently available that reference the Anderson Packing stop. This stop is attested to only in Hamman and Clough.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
Approx. 36.873˚N, 121.553˚W

The location of the Anderson Packing stop is not known with certainty, but Anderson Road between San Justo Road and San Juan Highway runs directly through the former property. The railroad paralleled San Justo Road throughout this area and it can be assumed that the packing plant more or less sat on the site of the current Earthbound Farm complex. Trespassing onto the Earthbound Farm complex is not advised. There appears to be no trace left of the original Anderson Packing Company complex surviving at the site today.

Citations & Credits:
  • Clough, Charles W., and Bobbye Sisk Temple. San Juan Bautista: The Town, the Mission & the Park. Sanger, CA: Word Dancer Press, 1996.
  • Hamman, Rick. California Central Coast Railways. Santa Cruz, CA: Otter B Books, 2002.
  • Pierce, Marjorie. East of the Gabilans: The Ranches, the Towns, the People—Yesterday and Today. Santa Cruz, CA: Valley Publishers, 1976.
  • Santa Cruz Evening News, 1913 – 1942.
  • Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1902 – 1942.

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