The First Pacific Coast Salmon Cannery was established in 1864
by brothers William and George Hume, and an old acquaintance
of theirs, Andrew Hapgood, and remained at this site until 1866.
The site is significant as the place where salmon was first
canned, an advancement that allowed the mildly successful industry
to flourish into a multimillion dollar Pacific Coast industry.
The salmon industry on the Pacific Coast of the United States
by the 1850s had developed a healthy market but was limited
in its ability to meet consumer demands for the product due
to preservation issues.
In 1852 William Hume, originally from Maine, entered into the
salmon industry in Sacramento, California, and was joined four
years later by his brother George. The brothers were limited
to the sale of fresh and "salted" salmon, the only
preservative available for salmon until that time. However,
the Humes soon overcame this limitation by inviting an old school
friend from Maine, Andrew Hapgood, to join them in the salmon
business. Hapgood was a tinsmith and a fisherman in Maine, both
skills that would prove useful as he had already successfully
experimented in canning lobster as well as salmon. He arrived
in Sacramento in 1864 with some rudimentary canning instruments.
The company then became Hapgood, Hume and Company, with operations
starting on April 1, 1864.
of the First Pacific Coast Salmon Cannery Site, 1964.
Image courtesy of Charles W. Snell, National Park Service.
The company revolutionized the technology of the preservation
of fish by replacing salting with canning. Each individual can
was processed by hand with the salmon being packed in salted
water and boiled to 230° F for an hour. Later in the process
the salt was replaced by a picke and the can finally painted
a bright red color that made it distinguishable even without
During the first year of operations the company produced 2,000
cases of salmon at five dollars per dozen. Although nearly half
of the cans burst at the seams the first year of production,
the company still managed to succeed with the second year of
sales echoing the success of the first. The business flourished
at the Sacramento River location until the spring of 1866, when
the salmon run in the river proved inadequate to meet the company's
demands. As a result, Hapgood, Hume and Company eventually relocated
to the Columbia River where the salmon supply was plentiful.
However, the Sacramento area did experience some success in
the canning industry with the operation of twenty canneries
on the shores of the river during the late nineteenth century.
of National Historic Landmark plaque at the First Pacific
Coast Salmon Cannery Site, 1975.
Image courtesy of James Ditton, National Park Service.
Although nothing of the original operation remained at the
time of designation, a National Historic Landmark plaque commemorated
the site of the First Pacific Coast Salmon Cannery Site. The
company site consisted of a scow anchored on the west bank of
the Sacramento River, directly opposite from the City of Sacramento's
K Street. It is believed that the brothers resided on a cabin
located on the shoreline. During the nineteenth century the
barge was lost and numerous floods altered the appearance of
the riverbank. The plaque is no longer extant and the riverbank's
appearance has changed through the site's development as a park
by the City of West Sacramento. Consequently, the site's designation
as a National Historic Landmark was withdrawn on July 14, 2004
by the Secretary of the Interior.