Monterey, California: Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour
Sly McFly's Refueling Station / Monterey Canning Company
Stop here for a moment and take a look across the street to your left. Do you see the red painted corrugated steel structure with the words Monterey Canning Company painted on the front? This is the original Monterey Canning Company warehouse. This is where I'll begin the story of Cannery Row.
The rapid expansion of Monterey’s fishing industry at the turn of the 20th century gave birth to the fish canning industry. During the first decade of the 1900’s, fishing and canning technology would improve. This street, which originally went by the name of Ocean View Avenue, would have a name change and become Cannery Row. The first cannery in Monterey, F. E. Booth’s Crescent Brand Sardine Cannery, was built next to Fisherman’s Wharf primarily for canning salmon. The first major cannery to spring up away from the wharf was Pacific Fish Company in 1908.
World War I brought a huge demand for canned sardines and, from 1915 to 1918, Monterey’s canned sardines production went from 75,000 cases of sardines to 1.4 million cases. Corrugated canneries were popping up all over the rocky coast of Monterey Bay and Cannery Row was in full swing.
Now, back to the story of the Monterey Canning Company, which was founded by Alexander MacMillan during the height of World War I. Alexander arrived in Carmel in 1897 to restart the abandoned Carmel Land & Coal Company near Point Lobos. He purchased the company and the 640 acres that now make up the Point Lobos State Reserve. Unable to make the company profitable, the following year he started the Point Lobos Abalone Company which operated out of what is now the Whaler’s Cove Parking Lot at Point Lobos. With the success of his abalone company, Alexander started his cannery in 1917.
Let's keep moving.
Continue walking straight on Cannery Row. You will pass between the Monterey Canning Company warehouse, to your left, and the Monterey Canning Company cannery and reduction plant to your right. Both buildings are distinguished by the Mission Revival false front.