Welcome to Cabo San Lucas Real Estate Sign in | Help

Cabo San Lucas Blog

This blog discusses Los Cabos real estate and other important news and happenings in Cabo.


The Cabo Cannery

As you return from a day of fishing in Cabo, tired and sunburned, you may not recall the boat passing by a very small wooden dock near the harbor entrance.  A dock so old and rickety that it threatens to collapse under the weights of the half-dozen or more small boys (and at times, even adults) that are always seen to be fishing there.


The dock projects out over the water from the faded remains of an old concrete building and on its side one can barely read the inscription: “Cia. de Productos Marinos, S. de R.L., Planta Empacadora, Cabo San Lucas, B. Calif.


It seems, to the casual observer, to be just an anonymous old, abandoned building, lost amid the glitter and ongoing drama of the thriving and popular tourist destination of Cabo San Lucas. But what very few visitors today realize is that as recently as 1962 this building and a few shacks scattered around it constituted the entire settlement of Cabo San Lucas, which at that time had a total population of only 300 cannery workers and their families.


The abundance of tuna in Cabo was discovered in the early 20th Century, and in 1917 (research differs on the year, some say 1917 and others 1927) an American tuna cannery was moved from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas to take advantage of this new resource.  At its peak was the largest in Latin America, producing about 75% of Mexico’s output of canned seafood products.  It was preceded in Cabo San Lucas by a tall, four-masted sailing cannery ship anchored near the arches—where the cruise ships anchor today.  That ship was kept supplied with tuna by a fleet of rowed skiffs and small jig boats.

This brought a new population that continued to grow even as the native population dwindled. By the 1930s, a small fishing village had developed to supply the cannery. The harbor was then occupied by about 400 people, all of whom were involved in the canning industry. This remained the driving force of the local economy until 1941, when a hurricane destroyed a large part of the factory. The damage was devastating and Cabo San Lucas was all but abandoned during World War II, when Japanese submarines patrolled the coast.

In the late 1950s, a decision critical to the future of Baja California was made by the federal government in Mexico City: Cabo San Lucas would cease to be a cannery town, and would be developed instead as a major tourist destination based on sport fishing. There were protests and complaints from the local population, but nevertheless a new cannery was built at San Carlos at Bahia Magdalena, and the very first of Cabo's great resorts opened its doors in 1963: the original Hotel Hacienda built by Rod Rodriguez, son of former Mexican president Abelardo Rodriguez.

The cannery in Cabo San Lucas continued to operate into the 1970s even as hotels such as Palmilla, Cabo San Lucas and Hacienda Cabo San Lucas began operating.  In the early 1970s citizens of Cabo San Lucas set their clocks and went about their daily activities according to the whistle at the cannery.  What is of interest is that the whistle was 5 minutes slower than the rest of the world.

Posted: Saturday, September 10, 2011 7:52 AM by Nick Fong
Filed under:


Martin Posch said:

Great article Nick!


# September 15, 2011 1:10 PM
Anonymous comments are disabled