“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

San Jose in Santa Clara County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Del Monte Packing Plant History

Del Monte Packing Plant History Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, August 19, 2020
1. Del Monte Packing Plant History Marker
Del Monte Park is named after the cannery that once occupied this site and the land across the street. California was a major producer of fruits and vegetables in the late 1800's. Santa Clara Valley was known as the Valley Of Heart's Delight for its high concentration of orchards, flowering trees, and plants. However, bumper harvests in the late 1860's saturated the modest local market, causing significant economic disruption among the orchardists and farmers. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, created the possibility of reaching nationwide markets, if technology could be developed for processing fruits and vegetables, allowing for them to be shipped long distances.

The first cannery in the Valley was JM Dawson & Company, founded in 1871 by Dr. James M. Dawson, his wife Eloise Jones Dawson and their son Thomas Benton Dawson. The cannery packed 300 cases of peaches, apricots, pears and plums in their first year of operation. The cannery later incorporated in 1875, as the San Jose Fruit Packing Company (SJFPC). By 1881, employing over 300 hands during the running season, about one million cans a year were

Del Monte Packing Plant History Marker - wide view image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, August 19, 2020
2. Del Monte Packing Plant History Marker - wide view
Bathrooms are on the left, and the marker is on the right.
packed, mostly by women and girls. In 1893, SJFPC constructed a state-of-the-art cannery on the site across the street. The new cannery was then the world's largest fruit cannery, shipping 275,000 cases (6.6 million cans) in 1895.

In 1899, 11 of the state's biggest canners merged under the name California Fruit Canners Association (CFCA). In 1916 SJFPC merged with CFCA, another canner, and a food brokerage house, incorporating into California Packing Corporation, or Calpak, and began marketing its products under the Del Monte label. Thomas Dawson was Calpak's first General Superintendent.

The new company grew operations to more than 60 canneries, with locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. Pineapple lands and a cannery in Hawaii were acquired in 1917, and in the 1920s, canneries in Florida, the Midwest and the Philippines were added. After World War II more facilities were constructed or purchased overseas. With multinational operations, the name California Packing Corporation was changed in 1967 to the Dei Monte Corporation, still known for processing, canning and distributing food.

Until the 1960s, Santa Clara Valley was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world, with 39 canneries. The plant across the street continued to operate for 82 years, operating as Del Monte Corporation's Plant #3 from 1967 until its closure

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in 1999. About 1,200 seasonal workers where employed when the plant closed. It was the last operating cannery in San Jose.

The Del Monte Park site was acquired by the cannery and used as a parking lot. In 2005, KB Home South Bay Incorporated acquired the closed cannery and the parking lot to create the new residential project across the street. Following the State's Quimby Act and a City ordinance, KB Home dedicated the parking lot to the City, paid park fees and paid for the development of the Del Monte Park Master Plan, satisfying their parkland obligation.

The Park developed on the parking lot site, was funded entirely by a grant under Statewide Park Program in Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006.

(Sidebar:) The fruit canning industry began in San José in the 1870's. As farm production increased, entrepreneurs, farmers and scientists worked to find a way to preserve the valley's harvest long enough to reach distant markets by rail. The solution was found in canning the local fruits and vegetables, which was a labor intense operation.

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureIndustry & CommerceParks & Recreational Areas.
Location. 37° 

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19.263′ N, 121° 54.251′ W. Marker is in San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker is on Auzerais Avenue east of Sunol Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Jose CA 95126, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Del Monte (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Roberto – Suñol Adobe (approx. 0.4 miles away); San José Diridon Station (approx. 0.6 miles away); Remembering Agriculture (approx. 0.9 miles away); Buffington House (approx. one mile away); Henry's Hi-Life (approx. one mile away); Hotel De Anza (approx. 1.1 miles away); College of Notre Dame (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Jose.
More about this marker. The marker is located in Del Monte Park, just off of Auzerais Avenue, by the restrooms.
Also see . . .  Del Monte Plant #3 Overview (1999) (YouTube, 9 min.). "Overview of the Del Monte Plant #3 in San Jose, California, showing fruit preparation, sorting, and canning. Details the operations of the plant, which products it produces (including fruit cocktail), a history of Del Monte in San Jose, and a history of the plant. It ends with the announcement of the plant closure in 1999, as its operations are transferred to Modesto, and a salute to the cannery workers of Plant 3...Produced by Videowise Incorporated (2615 N. Argyle, Fresno, CA 93727) for Del Monte." (Submitted on August 20, 2020.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 20, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 65 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 20, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.
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Mar. 8, 2021