Explore Our History
Dismantling of the old Hovden Cannery begins in April and is completed in August.
Three preserved boilers near the Aquarium entrance remind us of the great canning industry that once flourished on this site.
The original pumphouse (left) remains in place near the Aquarium's deck. The old pumps drew sardines into the cannery from the fish hoppers floating offshore. New pumps now push sea water into the Aquarium exhibits.
Hovden Cannery Dismantled
April 1980The cannery, built in 1916, was the largest on Cannery Row and the last one to close (in 1973) after the sardine fishery collapsed. As the cannery is dismantled to make way for Aquarium construction, building materials and cannery machinery are salvaged, much of it by hand. Portions that are sound enough to be incorporated into the new building structure include the pumphouse and the entire warehouse fronting David Avenue. The boiler house structure will remain as an historic artifact, tying the new building to its past.
Then and NowBoilers were the most essential equipment in the canning process. The steam they produced ran the cannery: it cooked the fish, powered the machines, cleaned the cans, pumped the water and blew the whistle.
In honor of the Steinbeck Centennial in 2002, the Aquarium starts blowing the original cannery steam whistle at noon from the whistle's new location on a portable cart. In the canning days, a chorus of cannery whistles, each cannery with its own pitch and pattern, called workers to the lines and warehouses when the sardine fleet arrived with the fish. Cutting, packing and cooking continued until that night's catch was canned, no matter how long it took.