When I started researching the local San Jose packing houses in detail, I saw a couple mentions of a plant south of San Jose in the Edenvale area. It's a surprising neighborhood for any kind of industry - just prune trees for miles around, with the Hayes mansion sitting in the middle of it all. There's also little detail in the old newspapers or history books. (Just check out what little I found about the Edenvale Fruit Company on the Packing Houses of the Santa Clara Valley wiki. Supposedly, it was financed by the Hayes, and built of brick. Ed Richmond bought the business around 1918 just after he quit J.K. Armsby and went off on his own. A year later, when he teamed up with Elmer Chase to form Richmond Chase, the Edenvale plant was one of their star properties.
But I've never seen a photo of the packing house, nor have I seen anything other than the occasional cryptic reference to it. Kids remember it as one of the few sights along Monterey Highway in those days, and it was memorable enough to deserve a mention in a San Jose airport timeline: "1952: ...Fire destroyed the landmark Richmond-Chase Co. dried fruit plant at Edenvale, and Campbell became an incorporated city."
Well, history's trying to tease me. The picture above was posted to a Southern Pacific history group on Facebook, and *almost* shows the packing house. The photo is supposed to be a shot of Johan Hagemeyer, a local photographer who was best known for his portraits. For some reason, he was out in Edenvale one day. The photo shows the main line, the tiny whistle-stop station, and a line of boxcars along the siding. The shadows hint that the photo was taken in the morning, with Monterey Highway to our right.
And Hagemeyer is there, leaning against a loading dock for what will become Richmond Chase Plant #1. And the photographer couldn't take the time to turn just a bit to the left and capture the packing house itself.
And, as always, getting extra pairs of eyes looking at these photos helps us figure out history. Throw in comments if you see anything interesting in the photo, or go to the Packing Houses of Santa Clara County, and throw in the details you know about our town and our canneries.
Johan Hagemeyer's photo comes from his collection at the Bancroft Library; the library classifies it as part of his early photos, and probably taken between 1908 and 1915. The Johan Hagemeyer Photograph Collection is available at the Online Archive of California. Great thanks to Dale Phelps for posting this on the Southern Pacific Railroad page on Facebook, where I saw it.