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
Chicago, Ill. 1985 200 S. Michigan Ave. Headquarters.
Chicago, Ill. 1935, -1985 1700 W. 119th St.[6] Food production plant. Canned meat, bouillon cubes, mince meat.
Various sites, Alaska 1935 Salmon canneries. Nushagak, Koggiung, Egushilk, Kenai, Yakutat, Lockanok, Egegik, Libbyville, Ekuk, Taku, Karheen, Klawack, Craig, George Inlet.
Alma, MI 1935 Pickles, beans.
Bellona Station, NY 1935 Sauerkraut.
Blue Island, IL 1935 Tomatoes, pickles, pork and beans, olives, relish.
Brazil, IN 1935 Tomato products.
Brooklyn, NY 1935 Olives.
Burbank, CA 1935 Verdugo Ave and McKeon Av., near railroad tracks[7]. Canned pickles and tomatoes in 1935. Formerly Hinkley Beach cannery, bought in 1919[8]. Did not operate in 1921[9].
Camden, DE 1935 Tomato products, apples.
Chatham, Ontario 1935 Canned meat, vegetables, fruits.
Chino, CA 1918-1946[10] Chino Ave and Fifth Street Canned tomato products in 1935. Built in 1918 as Chino Cannery Company. Closed in 1946 because of lack of local produce.
Colby, WI 1935 Peas.
Coldwater, MI 1935 Sauerkraut.
Dorchester WI 1935 Peas.
Eau Claire, WI 1935 Sauerkraut.
Effingham, IL 1935 Tomato products.
Eureka IL 1935 Peas, corn, pumpkin.
Fresno 1935 Raisins.
Gridley Plant #13[11] 1920- 100 block of Kentucky Street[12] Original cannery bought by Libby, but new cannery built in 1920. "Largest peach cannery in the world."[13]. Canned peaches and spinach in 1935.
Grand Island 1927 River Road Just south of Ryde along Sacramento River[14] Photo at California State Library, McCurry Foto Co.
Gridley 1935 Canned peaches and spinach in 1935.
Hall, NY 1935 Sauerkraut.
Hartford WI 1935 Peas, carrots, beets.
Honolulu, HI 1935 Pineapple cannery.
Houston DE 1935 tomato products, pickles, catchup, sweet potatoes.
Isleton, CA 1935 Asparagus.
Juneau WI 1935 Evaporated milk.
Kent, WA 1935 Canned berries, pickles, sauerkraut.
Lake Mills WI 1935 Peas.
Locke, CA 1935 Asparagus, tomato products.
Manzanola, CO 1935 Canned berries, pickles, tomatoes, catchup.
Morrison IL 1935 Evaporated and condensed milk.
Morton IL 1935 Peas, corn.
Nappannee, IN 1935 Sauerkraut.
Nimbus, CA 1913-1974[15] Folsom Blvd. at Nimbus Road Olive processing. Bought in 1913.
Oakland 1935 dried fruits.
Patterson CA 1935 Evaporated milk.
Pauwela, HI 1935 375 W. Kuiaha Road, Haiku, Maui. Pineapple cannery. Now Pauwela Cannery Center..
Portland, OR 1935 Canned cherries, apples, berries, pickles.
Rocky Ford, CO 1935 Tomatoes, pickles, beans, tomato products, beets.
Sacramento 1913-1982 1724 Stockton Ave. History Canned fruit, tomatoes, and spinach in 1930's. Plant described in January 1921 Canning Age[16].
San Francisco 1912 112 Market Street Santa Marina Building
San Francisco 1922 465 California Street[17].
San Francisco 1960 North Point near Taylor[18]. Did not appear on 1935 list.
San Jose 1926-1927 4th and Lewis Leased from California Prune and Apricot Growers.
Santa Clara 1927- Franklin Street Dried fruit.
Selma 1913[19], 1935 Center and Front Street[20] 200 x 700 foot cannery / 17 acres. Canned apricots, sweet potatoes, grapes, plums, pears, spinach, pumpkins, and squashes, and also packed raisins and other dried fruits.".
Sheridan MI 1935 Evaporated milk.
Sunnyvale 1907-1981 Mathilda and Evelyn Avenue water tank still exists. Canned fruit, tomatoes, pork and beans.
Tuscaloosa AL 1935 Evaporated milk.
Washington IL 1935 Peas, corn, pumpkin.
Waipun WI 1935 Evaporated milk.
Whitewater WI 1935 Evaporated and condensed milk.
Wyoming DE 1935 Tomato products, apples.
Yakima, WA 1935 Canned cherries, pears, apples.

Other Documents

Mid-1930's list of Libby's production plants and products..


  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. Libby Leaving Chicago. September 26, 1985 Chicago Tribune.
  7. Friday Flashback: A Taste of Burbank. my, Sept. 22, 2017.
  8. Cannery at Burbank Sold. December 1919 Western Advertising. "Libby McNeil & Libby has purchased the Hinckley-Beach Cannery at Burbank, Calif. This cannery was the first institution of its kind to locate in the San Fernando Valley town."
  9. Pacific Southwest Notes. July 1922 Western Canner and Packer. "At Burbank during the last week of June the plant of Libby, McNeil & Libby started operations under the management of Thaaddeus Libby Up de Graff. The cannery did not operate in 1921. Its pack this year will be double that of 1920."
  10. Remembering When. May 16, 2015 Chino Champion. "The Libby, McNeil and Libby Cannery on Fifth Street at Chino Avenue became the economic center of the community in the twenties and thirties, after the sugar beet factory shut down. It was built in 1918 as the Chino Cannery Company, which was controlled by a man aptly named L.E. McCann. It packed apricots, peaches and tomato products, and later fruit juices as well. In 1920 Libby, McNeal and Libby purchased the firm, and at one time employed 450, working 12 hours a day. W.C. Baker managed it from 1926-1939. Later, with Lewis Soupene, he built many homes on the west side of Chino, where a street is named for him. The cannery closed in 1946 because of the lack of locally grown produce. The equipment was auctioned off in 1953 and the building was sold to the Air Vent Awning Company. The building now looks vacant and run down, with broken windows."
  11. Gridley. Sanborn fire insurance map. July 1924.
  12. [ Fire at old Gridley cannery complex contained, but parts still burn." December 30, 2015 Sacramento Bee.
  13. Ruth Ann King et. al., Gridley. Arcadia Press.
  14. 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.
  15. Nimbus building has stood the test of time. April 19, 2011 Folsom Telegraph. "Initially the site was a distillery for brandy. Libby, McNeil & Libby bought the buildings in 1913 and began its life as an olive cannery, which continued until 1974."
  16. Libby, McNeil & Libby's Sacramento Cannery. In January, 1921 Canning Age. Includes plan of plant and references plant's name as "Old Reliable".
  17. These Shippers have Signed On With Peach and Fig Growers: July 1921 Associated Grower magazine
  18. William Kaufman and Michelle Kaufman: "The State Belt: San Francisco's Waterfront Railroad". Signature Press, 2013.
  19. Paul E. Vandor, History of Fresno County, California. Cannery built in 1911. Superintendent in 1913 was Warren G. Nash.
  20. Libby McNeil & Libby cannery. Historical marker placed by E Clampus Vitus, Jim Savage Chapter. "On this 6 1/4 acre site, Libby, McNeill and Libby opened the San Joaquin Valley's largest cannery on July 18, 1911, less than four hectic months after the site was acquired and construction plans were announced. The initial construction cost was 25,895. Attracted to Selma by many orchards of cling peaches and early success of a much smaller cannery a few blocks away on Whitson Street, Libby's grew quickly and a year later doubled its production capacity. In 1914, this large warehouse structure was constructed while other major improvements were made to the adjoining cannery along Center Street. Further expansion made Libby's one of California's largest canneries and southern Fresno County's biggest employer. Thanks to Libby's, Selma in 1914 adopted its first community theme — "Home of the Peach." Declining supplies of fruit, falling production and antiquated facilities led to the cannery's closure on September 24, 1971. The main cannery building was later demolished.