Sardine Factory at Jonesport, ca. 1910

Contributed by Penobscot Marine Museum


Pictured here is the west side of the William Underwood Company, a sardine cannery. This building was brick. The left portion was used for employee housing, and became known as the "Tenement House."

The William Underwood Co. was the first sardine cannery to operate in Jonesport. In 1880, some 30 years before this photograph was taken, a large wooden factory was built on the same site and operated for 20 years as the Rummery Lobster Company.

Underwood purchased it before it burned to the ground in 1900, at which time the brick building was constructed.

The Jonesport cannery had a reputation for being one of the cleanest, most well-maintained and worker-friendly facilities in the industry; the Underwood canneries in McKinley (now Bass Harbor) and Rockland enjoyed the same high esteem.

In Jonesport, the company operated its own employee ferry boat: the Sea Gull provided commuter service for packers living on Beals Island.

Underwood consistently upgraded their facilities, using the most up-to-date machinery available. At one point, the plant in Jonesport was regarded as the "World's Largest Sardine Factory."

The cannery generated its own electricity, unlike most other plants in Maine.

Each of the Underwood canneries produced distinctly flavored product due the diverse methods of cooking employed from one plant to the next. In McKinley, the sardines were deep fried in oil; in Rockland, they were steamed. The Jonesport factory roasted their sardines in large ovens. Many argued that these were the finest tasting sardines available.

When the facility closed in 1962, the U.S. government purchased the property, and it became a U.S. Coast Guard base.

The William Underwood Company produced other preserved food products, and became innovators in the canning industry following William Lyman Underwood's collaboration with faculty at MIT to develop a process for heating foods to kill pathogens prior to canning.

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About This Item

  • Title: Sardine Factory at Jonesport, ca. 1910
  • Creation Date: circa 1910
  • Subject Date: circa 1910
  • Location: Jonesport, Washington County, ME
  • Media: Glass Negative
  • Dimensions: 12.75 cm x 17.75 cm
  • Local Code: LB2007.1.101117
  • Collection: Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co.
  • Object Type: Image

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For more information about this item, contact:

Penobscot Marine Museum
PO Box 498, 5 Church Street, Searsport, ME 04974
(207) 548-2529

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