Saturday, December 18, 2010

Inside the Packing Houses

The packing house model's taking shape - I'm currently painting the basic model to get the weathered warehouse look.

Meanwhile, it's worth changing the focus from the outside of the packing house and warehouses to the inside.  What happened in a dried fruit packing house?

Luckily, the San Jose Public Library and San Jose State library can tell us.  Here's some photos from the John C. Gordon collection.  All three of these photos appear to be from the same packing house, and the last photo shows that it's a Sunsweet co-op associated plant from the box labels.

First, a photo of the prunes being boxed.  Many of the packing houses were multi-story, and the Sanborn maps note that the fruit bins and grading were done on the upper floors.  This photo shows why - the chutes from the upper floor drop the fruit into the packing machinery where it's all boxed.  Note that the women doing the packing are actually weighing each individual package as prunes are dropped in--automation hasn't gotten rid of the boxing jobs y as she drops prunes into it - automation isn't being used here.

Second, here's another photo of the women packing.  Another chute's visible at the back right of the photo, and this photo shows the simple interior well--wooden posts, exposed rafters, simple lights. Note the metal sash windows at the back; they're a nice touch, and probably catch at least a bit of a breeze so the plant floor isn't so hot.

Finally, here's the end of the production line with the boxes being labelled and packed in crates.

I'm not sure which Sunsweet plant is pictured in the photos.The metal U's between the posts and beams is an easy spotting feature for noting photos taken in the same packing house.  The Arcadia photo book for Campbell borrows one of these photos, but the horizontal, tipping steel sash windows don't match either the photos of the Campbell packing house next to downtown, or the Lincoln Ave. downtown; both had wooden sash windows.  However, the photos do explain all the work that's needed before those boxes of fruit make it into my railroad cars.

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