Pioneer Fruit Company

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Dried Fruit Packer

Virden Packing, American Fruit Growers

The Pioneer Fruit Company was an early dried fruit packing company associated with California Fruit Distributors. There was a schism in 1913 when California Fruit Distributors (and their eastern backers) wanted distribution centralized through Atlantic Fruit Distributors, and Pioneer refused. The secretary of California Fruit Distributors backed down; Charles Virden, who had run fruit packing houses in the northwest, took over the secretary's role. Pioneer was completely owned by Virden Packing in 1923[1][2] Pioneer was sold to American Fruit Growers in 1932[3].

Pioneer Fruit Company In San Jose

Pioneer had a packing house on Bassett Street near the San Jose railroad yards. The Bassett Street plant is visible on the G.H. Lawrence 1906 panorama. The building appears to be George Allen Flour company on 1915 Sanborn map. Their ownership of the land is mentioned in in groundwater pollution deed restrictions on Food Machinery Corporation land[4].


Location Years Address Details
Lodi 1913 Main Street and Lodi Avenue[5]

FE Collins Manager[6].

Muir/Martinez (1923, acc. to Oakland Tribune Aug 14 issue)
Napa None
Newcastle 1905 Placer County.
Red Bluff None
San Jose None 385 North First Street
San Jose 1906 Bassett Street west of Terraine. Plant to California Fruit Exchange, burned in 1907[7].
San Jose 1907, 1911, 1915 Pleasant Julian Street near Pleasant On 1915 Sanborn map. Part of Guggenhime plant on 1930 SP valuation map.
San Jose 1928 Bassett at Terraine
Suisun 1925 Jefferson St. at Broadway St.[8]


  1. Zellerbach Paper v. Virden Packing Co., 10 Cal App. 2nd 635, December 16, 1935.
  2. "Virden Disposes of Canneries to Direct the Pioneer Company: Lodi Sentinel, May 6, 1926
  3. Solano Valley History Frank E. Collins bio.
  4. Sobrato Development Company, Covenant to Restrict Use of Property: Environmental Restriction. Filed with Couty of Santa Clara, October 5, 1998.
  5. Lodi Chinatown map. From [1].
  6. August 30, 1913 Lodi Sentinel
  7. Saved By Heroic Work: August 4, 1907 San Jose Sunday Mercury and Herald
  8. Southern Pacific Company, Station Map Suisun-Fairfield. 1925. Reprinted in "SP Trainline Fall 2015" (Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society magazine).