Monterey, California: Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour
Wave Street Café Steinbeck Court / Canneries and the Railroad
Stop here for a moment.
On your right is the Wave Street Café, a nice place to stop for a cup of coffee and pastry.
Now have a look directly to your left across the parking lot.
Those are the ruins of the San Xavier Fish Packing Company which was founded by Swiss immigrant Frank Raiter in 1917. I will tell you more about this cannery later on this tour.
Now continue walking while I explain how and why the railroad came to Monterey.
Before the railroad came to this area in the 1870’s, Monterey was a relatively isolated town. To get to Monterey from San Francisco passengers as well as consumer goods traveled by ship or stagecoach. Both were time consuming.
As the fishing industry continued to grow in the late 1800’s it was clear that merchants needed a faster way than ship to get their products to market. In 1874, the Monterey & Salinas Valley Railroad was established and it worked out well until 1880, when they went bankrupt. The larger and more powerful Southern Pacific Railroad purchased them and in 1889 the they brought the railroad back to Monterey. It would have a long run shuttling passengers and manufactured goods back and forth between San Francisco and Monterey until 1971.
In the 1930’s, a railroad spur was extended from the Monterey Train Station at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf behind the canneries along the row, along what is today the Coastal Trail. These tracks served the canneries and packing houses as goods could then be easily loaded via platforms from the warehouses directly into waiting trains.
Continue walking straight.