The Wharf Marketplace is located in a historic building that in 1874 was built to be Monterey’s first train station...
The Monterey and Salinas Valley Railroad, established in 1874, was Monterey's first rail connection to the outside world. Purchased by Southern Pacific in 1879, passenger service soon began allowing the development of Monterey as a tourist destination. The railroad also transported the many settlers to Monterey, including the first Italians to fish Monterey waters.
The Southern Pacific Railroad was instrumental in Monterey Peninsula's growth and economic success. The Pacific Grove branch transported sand from Asilomar Beach and most of Monterey's fish canneries and warehouses were located adjacent to the tracks for direct loading onto freight cars for transport to market.
Local Railway Led the Way to America's Salad Bowl.
The Railroad was critical to the development of the Salinas Valley's Agriculture industry. As depicted in the John Steinbeck's East of Eden, the the advent of refrigerated rail meant that lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley could be transported coast to coast earning Salinas Valley the moniker "America's Salad Bowl."
The earliest rail cars used ice for cooling. Large wood crates were loaded into box cars and packed with ice, hence crisp head lettuce became know as "Iceberg Lettuce." In 1950's, Bud Antle revolutionized the lettuce industry with vacuum cooling and corrugated cartons. Lettuce could then be field packed and vacuum cooled for freshness. The corrugated boxes were then loaded into mechanically refrigerated box cars eliminating the need for ice, vastly improving the lettuce quality which trigger the demand for Salinas Valley produce throughout America.