Museum Memories

A second cannery was built at Odiak in 1888 by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, but after a fire, it was rebuilt at nearby Orca, and was visited in 1898 by the Harriman American expedition. Harriman’s journal detailed their visit: “The idea of stretching their legs on solid ground appealed to most of the expeditioners [sic] and several boats were soon splashing through the water toward town. Dominated by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company’s salmon cannery, Orca boasted three buildings and the foul odor of rotting fish. For miles along the coastline discarded salmon heads and fins littered the ocean lending the water an oily look. About 200 Chinese laborers worked long hours in the cannery and [naturalist John] Muir sadly shook his head at the sight of the men brought up from San Francisco to work for low wages. ‘Men in this business,’ he wrote, ‘are themselves canned.’”This photo came from the archives and collections of the Cordova Historical Society.

A second cannery was built at Odiak in 1888 by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, but after a fire, it was rebuilt at nearby Orca, and was visited in 1898 by the Harriman American expedition. Harriman’s journal detailed their visit: “The idea of stretching their legs on solid ground appealed to most of the expeditioners [sic] and several boats were soon splashing through the water toward town. Dominated by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company’s salmon cannery, Orca boasted three buildings and the foul odor of rotting fish. For miles along the coastline discarded salmon heads and fins littered the ocean lending the water an oily look. About 200 Chinese laborers worked long hours in the cannery and [naturalist John] Muir sadly shook his head at the sight of the men brought up from San Francisco to work for low wages. ‘Men in this business,’ he wrote, ‘are themselves canned.’”