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The Industrial Town

Without a doubt, Benicia’s qualifications as a site for new industries surpassed any other comparable location in post- Gold Rush California. Situated on the finest waterway and with slightly sloping hills, this new city was ideally suited for a manufacturing center. The waterfront is extensive, and after 1879 more than two miles of it lay between the main transcontinental railroad line and deep water.

The two great rivers of the State empty into Suisun Bay, a few miles north of Benicia, so all the inland commerce by ships, steamers and, later by rail, must come to or through Benicia. So early on, Benicia became noted principally as a manufacturing town.

The first major manufacturing firm to settle in Benicia was the Pacific Mail Steamship Company (PMSCO) with the establishment of a repair depot in 1850. Soon after the arrival of Pacific Mail came the tanneries. First came the Pioneer Tannery near the foot of First street, then Benicia Tannery and McKay Tannery on the western waterfront. Soon, Benicia gained the reputation of being the hub of California’s leading industry.

Later additions to this booming industrial sector were Benicia Packing Company, Western Creameries, California Rex Spray, Lambley’s Planing Mill, Pacific Cement Works, Benicia Brick Company, three shipyards (Turner, Robertson & Delaney) and Benicia Flour Mills.