Libby, McNeil, and Libby

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Sunnyvale Canneries

Libby, McNeil, and Libby was a Chicago-based canner, organized in 1875.

Their Sunnyvale cannery, opened in 1907, was large and long-lived; the water tank from the cannery still sits in the industrial park off Mathilda, painted as one of Libby's cans. Libby's opened the Sunnyvale cannery as their first west-coast plant due to the encouragement of local real estate agents and proximity to San Francisco[1]. Swift had primarily been a meat-packing company. Swift had bought Libby's in 1888 to broaden their product line[2]. Swift sold its final interest in Libby's in 1940 as part of the 1920's Packer's Consent Decree[3].

The Sunnyvale cannery's first product was canned apricots[4]. The cannery closed in the early 1980's, and the plant was torn down by 1985.

Wikipedia entry for company.

Swift and Company, the meat packer, had bought Libby's in 1888, but sold the company as part of the 1920 packer's decree.

Libby, McNeil, and Libby in Sacramento

Libby's expanded into Sacramento in 1913. The plant employed 1,400 people in 1921, and was nicknamed "Old Reliable" because of its ability to fulfill production contracts[5]. The plant had sidings served by the Southern Pacific and Northern Electric (Sacramento Northern).


Location Plant # Years Address Details
Gridley Plant #13 1920- 100 block of Kentucky Street[6] Original cannery bought by Libby, but new cannery built in 1920. "Largest peach cannery in the world."[7].
Grand Island 1927 River Road Just south of Ryde along Sacramento River[8]
Sacramento 1913-1982 1724 Stockton Ave. History
Sacramento 1914 Folsom Blvd. and Hazel Ave Olive pickling.
San Francisco 1912 112 Market Street Santa Marina Building
San Francisco 1922 465 California Street[9].
San Francisco 1960 North Point near Taylor[10].
San Jose 1926-1927 4th and Lewis Leased from California Prune and Apricot Growers.
Santa Clara 1927- Franklin Street
Sunnyvale 1907-1981 Mathilda and Evelyn Avenue water tank still exists.


  1. Kent L. Seavey, Yolanda Wuth, and James C. Williams, Images: Sunnyvale's Heritage Resources, 1988, City of Sunnyvale. Chapter 4.
  2. Canneries hold important place in Sunnyvale's history: August 9, 2012 San Jose Mercury Views
  3. Swift & Co to Sell Libby Stock Approved. Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1939. "A plan of Swift & Co. for the disposal of its $23,870,000 stock interest in Libby, McNeil, & Libby - as ordered by a federal court - was approved yesterday by Federal Judge Thomas Jennings Bailey in the United States district court in Washington D. C.... the action resulted from an anti-trust drive initiated by the federal government 20 years ago to compel packing companies to dispose of their holdings in companies doing a business not directly related to the meat packing business."
  4. C.W. Geiger, "Libby, McNeil, and Libby's Sacramento Cannery". In January 1921 Canning Age.
  5. C.W. Geiger, "Libby, McNeil, and Libby's Sacramento Cannery". In January 1921 Canning Age. Article includes plan of factory site and location of different buildings and railroad sidings.
  6. [ Fire at old Gridley cannery complex contained, but parts still burn." December 30, 2015 Sacramento Bee.
  7. Ruth Ann King et. al., Gridley. Arcadia Press.
  8. Pratt-Low Info, Cannery Landing RV Campground. Site shows 1928 steamboat map showing Libby Cannery, California Conserving, and Pratt-Low Cannery along west bank of Sacramento River in Grand Island, just south of Ryde.
  9. These Shippers have Signed On With Peach and Fig Growers: July 1921 Associated Grower magazine
  10. William Kaufman and Michelle Kaufman: "The State Belt: San Francisco's Waterfront Railroad". Signature Press, 2013.