Monterey, California: Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour
Public Coastal access between InterContinental Hotel and Bubba Gump Restaurant / Advancements in Fishing Industry
Walk over to the cut-out in the center deck and take a look over the railing. Underneath this deck is the remains of a holding tank. Stop here for a moment and have a seat on one of the benches while I explain what the holding tank was used for.
Originally all early canneries operated using the same method. Fish were caught with a net, deposited in a ship and delivered to an abbreviated pier constructed at the front of the cannery on the water side.
Then it gets pretty messy. The fish were cut by hand to remove the head and tail, split and spread out to dry on wooden slats. After they were dry, the butchered fish were scooped into baskets and drawn through troughs of boiling peanut oil. This was called French frying. Fish were then packed into cans and hand soldered closed. But this was about to change.
Pietre Ferrante arrived in Monterey in 1904. After observing the fishing methods being used in Monterey, he introduced the lampara boat which greatly improved the size of the catch and increased the compensation to the fishermen for their efforts.
Between 1925 and 1929, the boats continued to get larger. The lampara net was replaced by the half ring net, which was capable of an even larger haul. Now boats were too small to carry both the crew and the catch, so the fishermen towed a second boat called a lighter, a kind of flat-bottomed barge to hold the larger catch.
The canneries along Cannery Row didn’t have large loading docks, so as catches increased in size they would be off-loaded at sea by brailing nets that would transfer fish by metal buckets along a wire cable to the cannery weight room. A very tedious task for the fishermen, who had already worked all night bringing in the catch.