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Publication Date: Friday, June 28, 2002

The 'Pickle Works' becomes home to city's police The 'Pickle Works' becomes home to city's police (June 28, 2002)

By Lisa Windes

The Mountain View Police and Fire Administration building, located at the block surrounded by Oak Street, Franklin and Villa, is the former site of a large pickle and catsup canning operation.

The California Supply Company of San Francisco built a large tin-sided processing building and several warehouses here in 1917. The site was strategically located adjacent to the SP Railway and the old city water works. Local residents affectionately called it the "Pickle Works." During the 1920's and 30's, most of the cucumbers and tomatoes processed at the plant came from the Holthouse and Thompson ranches, the present site of Lockheed in Sunnyvale.

Thirty permanent employees maintained the plant year-round. At the peak season between June and Septembe, the company employed 200 to 300 workers. Between World War I and II, the pickle works was one of the main industries in the city.

During the Depression, the average worker earned 15 cents an hour and supervisors earned 35 cents an hour. The workers produced 500 pounds of pickles and related products each day. The Oak Street warehouses contained two hundred 5,000-gallon salt brine vats used to cure the pickles, and the processing plant housed eight vessels used to cook tomatoes for catsup. The entire community knew when the tomatoes were in -- the steam carried the odor of catsup all over town.

The first superintendent of the pickle works, Carl Nielsen, moved his family to Mountain View in 1917, and the company provided him with a house next to the main building. When the operation expanded, his house was moved to its present location at 1057 Dana St. His son, Art, became Mountain View police chief in the 1960's.

The California Conserving Company bought the plant in the early 1940's. In late 1950, the company transferred the machinery to a modern plant in Fremont, and the pickle works was demolished in 1963.


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