Saturday, May 11, 2013

Trains Rolling Over, and Rosenberg Brothers Burns

I really need to model the 1900's. For one thing, I could make really bad trackwork and still be prototypical. Not only do trains roll over on the old narrow gauge line, but the November 10, 1906 San Jose Evening News also mentions that train #36's engine rolled over the previous day near the broad gauge depot (Market Street). Because the article was buried on page three, I suspect engines rolling over wasn't that uncommon an experience.

Up on the front page, you'll find the story that dragged me to this particular issue: the Rosenberg Brothers packing house burned overnight. As the Evening News put it:

Stewed prunes are a drug on the market today, although the supply is said to be a little overdone. Out on Ryland street adjoining the Southern Pacific tracks there are several thousand tons of thoroughly cooked fruit, enough to supply the United States Army for a month to come.
The prunes were stored in the warehouse of the Rosenberg Brothers' company awaiting shipment to the eastern markets. Early this morning, the warehouse took fire and today there is nothing left but a half block of cinders and ashes and many tons of cooked fruit.
The fire broke out at 1:30 am in the engine room of the packing house, and spread with great rapidity until the whole interior of the building was a mass of flames. When discovered the fire had gained great headway and it was impossible to save the building for destruction.
The burned packing house adjoins the plant of the Inderrieden Packing Company and the firemen devoted their energies to preventing the spread of the flames in this direction. After a hard battle the fire was driven back from the Inderridden plant and the loss was confined to the Rosenberg Brothers' packing house.
A train of Southern Pacific freight cars standing upon the track adjoining the warehouse took fire before they could be hauled away and ten loaded cars were burned. A number of small dwellings on the north side of Ryland street were scorched by the extreme heat, but were saved from destruction by the chemical engine.
... It was first feared that George Gonzales, the night watchman employed at the plant, had been burned in the building, but later it was found that he was safe at home where he has been confined for several days by illness.
The plant was in full operation at present and employed a large force of girls and men. It is estimated that there were fully fifty cars of dried prunes, peaches, apricots, and pears in the building and the loss will total $100,000.
Rosenberg Brothers are big dried fruit packers with headquarters in San Francisco and branches in all leading fruit sections. The local manager is George Hyde. Mr Hyde was in San Francisco when the fire was discovered, having gone there on Friday.
The photo shows the Rosenberg plant a few months earlier, captured by George Lawrence's aerial photo of San Jose. You can see the line of buildings on Ryland Street, helpfully annotated by their owners in whitewash as part of the aerial photo celebration. Abinante and Nola will be in Inderrieden's plant in 1945. You can even see Earl Fruit's plant at the bottom of the photo, as well as the huge expanse of the SP freight house in the middle of the yard.

Interestingly, Rosenberg Brothers was a newcomer to San Jose, only appearing in the city directories in 1906. Time to look through old papers to see hints of what brought them to town.

And yes, the manager of the burned plant, George Hyde, is the same George Hyde that will be building a cannery in Campbell in a few years. Bet he made sure there was a substitute night watchman on hand when the night watchman got sick. George had only been doing the job for a year; the 1905 San Jose City Directory listed him as an orchardist out in Cupertino in 1905. He was still manager of the Rosenberg Brothers plant in 1907, but went back to the orchards in 1908. He'll go back into management in 1910 when he and E. E. Thomas manage their own dried fruit company, then take over the former Campbell Fruit Growers Union in Campbell.

Rosenberg moved their operation to San Carlos St. "near the creek" for the 1907 season, then to the former Santa Clara Valley Fruit Exchange plant on the northwest corner of Sunol and Auzerais Sts, where they stayed from 1908 through 1915. That year, the plant the plant was taken by arson, and Rosenberg moved to hopefully less inflammatory Santa Clara.

Also in Saturday's paper:

  • Redding man tries to hold up italian restaurant. John Leishman was refused breakfast because it was too late, so rather than ask "pelase?" he pulled out a gun.
  • Updates on the gas-pipe thug murders.
  • Maude Adams, the Debbie Reynolds of her time, turns 34.

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