Salinas Spreckels Plant, showing large
stacks of beets
Train loads of beets supplied the Salinas
courtesy of CaliforniaViews
Spreckels was born on July 9, 1828 and started off as
a poor German immigrant who first settled in North Carolina
upon arriving in America in 1846. Spreckels soon opened
a grocery chain with locations in South Carolina, San
Francisco and New York he also helped start a brewery
and a sugar refinery. Spreckels sold his interest in the
refinery and returned to Germany to work in the refineries
gaining first hand knowledge that would help him in opening
his own refinery.
Spreckels returned to America and opened a sugar refinery
in San Francisco. Spreckels used sugar cane as the raw
sugar material. Purchased from Hawaii and other countries
sugar cane was inexpensive. It was in 1886 that Spreckels
had turned to sugar beets as the raw sugar material because
of the changing politics overseas.
In 1888 Spreckels opened a sugar refining plant in Watsonville
reaching a capacity of 1,000 tons per day. It wasn't long
after that Spreckels need additional sugar refining capacity
and decided to open a new sugar refining plant near Salinas,
construction started in 1897 and completed in 1899. Capacity
for the Salinas plant reached 3,000 tons of beets per
day more than all of the refineries in California combined.
The plant included
the community of Spreckels,
(company built homes named after Claus Spreckels).
The Salinas Spreckels factory became the most inovative
sugar beet factory in the world. Spreckels also operated
a plantation style farm system in which farmers grew sugar
beets exclusively for Spreckels. The factory closed down
in 1982 and was eventually demolished in 1992. Claus Spreckels
died on Dec. 26, 1908.