Colma On My Mind

Written by admin on February 15th, 2014

I find myself a cemeterian. I am other things, of course, but I am also this.

Like an aficionado of, say, bridges, I see a terrain that most people do not. A bridge aficionado will have some awareness of the bridges that lie ahead of them when they travel, and further, will have a list of great or exemplary bridges they have visited or hope to visit. People they travel with might know of the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridge but may be completely unaware of the sweeping span of the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia, or the funky old, covered Green River Bridge in Guilford, Vermont.

Olivet Cemetery

Olivet Cemetery

My avocation in cemeteries started when I wrote a history of the Santa Barbara Cemetery. This effort started in 1996 and ended with publication of that history in 2006. During that period, when I traveled for work or vacation, I began visiting cemeteries. I wanted to understand them in the way a bridge aficionado understands bridges – as types, as evolutionary stages, as exemplars of cultures and practices, as institutions.

I also read, of course. I read about regions and about trends, and always the same handful of cemeteries cropped up as IMPORTANT. Like bridges, many people will be aware of these, though likely fewer people have inadvertently crossed them. These cemeteries include the famous graveyards of New Orleans, the great Mount Auburn Cemetery west of Boston, Brooklyn’s Green-Wood, the old cemeteries of New England such as Cape Cod, and now possibly the most famous of all, Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.

I opted out of pursuing the famous and important, though. Mainly, I could not take time away from family and work and go vacation in cemeteries. There was, however, a strategic side to my thinking. Visiting cemeteries that do not figure as historical in the literature would force me to see them with my own eyes. I could not rely on other’s interpretations; I had to understand the historians interpretations and make my own.

Unlike bridges, however, which are singular in time, evolution, and design, cemeteries are more like people or towns or old pets. Each cemetery did start at some point. The people burying their dead in them had a set of practices. There was some means of managing these sites, from a laissez faire dig-it-yourself to an overarching corporate control. Then you add time and trends, the influence of a manager or sextant, salt it with locale, and pepper it with varying levels of respect.

It matters little, but I could tell you, just by walking the grounds of most cemeteries, when they were founded, who the original ‘stock’ in the area was – German, Irish, Spanish, etc. – when transitions took place and what those transitions were. I could often tell how the management of the cemetery had changed over time. I could even estimate with some level of accuracy the total number of burials, the number of unmarked graves, and the level of record-keeping at the cemetery. It’s not a trick I pull out at parties.

Buckets of Buckets

Any aficionado has their list of the important bridges, buildings, birds, peaks, etc. they must visit. My practice kept me from ever having such a list. While I was researching and writing the book, I worked in the software industry. I traveled to the places where the customers were. While I was in these places, I went to the cemeteries. I visited Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey, Milwaukee, upstate New York, Minnesota, Texas. I traveled to Amsterdam, Melbourne, Shanghai. More recently, working on telescope installations, I traveled to South Africa, Chile, and other parts of Australia and Texas. I also visited cemeteries where I vacationed, to Indiana, New Mexico, Mexico, Hawaii, and so forth.

Then, through a confluence of various factors, I found myself visiting the important cemeteries. I went to Forest Lawn, Mount Auburn, Boston and Cape Cod, Mountain View and Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, the great Père Lachaise (and my even more favorite the Montmarte). Then came a chance to visit Colma.

Colma is the single greatest accumulation of cemeteries in one place in the United States that I know of. There are at least seventeen and more likely twenty cemeteries. (Cemeteries tend to split and merge and change names or expand across multiple sites. It’s a bit like counting animal cells as they divide, albeit cemeteries do divide very slowly.) There are over 1.5M burials in Colma. With the diversity of the cemeteries – Catholic, Japanese, Serbian, and so forth – Colma ranks as the Disney World of cemeteries.

Becoming Colma

The area was named Colma sometime in the late 1800s. It was essentially a thickening on the road south of San Francisco. There was a church, a post office (1869), and a cluster of farms and residences. A Colma sports arena held sway from 1907 through 1915 or so as an important boxing venue.

Cemeteries began to come to Colma of their own accord. While Colma’s population was small, San Francisco, ten miles to the north, was the largest in the state. Pressure to cease cemetery operations in the city, and even to move cemeteries out, began mounting by the 1880s. Land in the city was too expensive to be relegated to burials. The area around Colma was considered ideal because it sat down the well-maintained Mission Street from the city, and streetcars and the Southern Pacific rail line ran to it or through it.

The first cemetery in Colma, Holy Cross, was established in 1887 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The diocese moved nearly 40,000 graves from San Francisco to the new burial ground. Two years later, two Jewish cemeteries, Home of Peace and Hills of Eternity joined forces and created a cemetery, moving some 13,000 graves. Salem Cemetery arrived in 1891 with 696 graves. Cypress Lawn, the largest non-denominational cemetery in the city, moved in 1892, bringing 35,000 graves. In 1896, Mount Olivet (now Olivet Cemetery) opened, and in 1899, the Italian Cemetery moved with  over 8,000 graves.

Then, on March 26, 1900, the City of San Francisco, passed Bill #54 & Ordinance #25 outlawing any new cemeteries within city limits. This was, like most cemetery-related practices, a long-standing norm on the East Coast where new cemetery designations had been outlawed within major cities by 1825. On the East Coast, the concern was the spread of disease. San Francisco’s legislative body was primarily concerned about property value.

In quick succession during 1901, the Serbian Cemetery, the Eternal Home Cemetery, and the Japanese Cemetery all moved to Colma. In 1903 Greenlawn Perpetual Care Park (later renamed an Endowment Care park in the 1950s when perpetual was deemed a difficult legal framework) arrived, and in 1904, Woodlawn set up shop next door. In 1907, Sunset View Cemetery arrived.

There were now 13 cemeteries in Colma, varying in size from a couple acres to spreads of hundreds of acres.

In 1912, the City of San Francisco voted to have all remaining graveyards within city limits removed. Cemeteries in the midst of moving were struggling to find family members willing to pay for the moves. According to one site,, many moved bodies were interred in mass graves where there were no relatives to pay the roughly $10.00 removal charge. Feet were dragging and the new ordinance did not have the desired effect.

Two years later, on January 14, 1914, the city passed Ordinance #2597, essentially an eviction notice to all cemeteries, stating they must remove all remaining bodies and monuments as a “public nuisance and a menace and detriment to the health and welfare of city dwellers.” The eviction notice, backfired however. It caused the remaining cemeteries and several families to put up a stout resistance. Not until November 1937 were the legal battles resolved and the remaining bodies ordered to be removed.

The last four additions to the Colma cemeteries roster were Greek Orthodox Cemetery (1935), Pet’s Rest Cemetery (1947), Hoy Sun Cemetery (1988), and Golden Hills Memorial Park (1994).

In 1924, the little town (2.2 square miles of mostly cemeteries), incorporated as Lawndale. The town fathers were unaware or unconcerned that a town called Lawndale was already established south of Los Angeles. They left the post office named Colma and thus avoided problems, as mail arrived addressed to Colma, California. As soon as home delivery was considered, however, the two Lawndales found themselves sorting each other’s mail. The town was re-incorporated as Colma in December, 1941.

What’s Colma in Chinese?

I visited Colma on a cold, dreary February day. I arrived before light and left only after the onset of male-pattern exhaustion around four in the afternoon. I missed several cemeteries, including sadly, Pet’s Rest and the old Salem Cemetery. The one’s I visited were nevertheless truly fascinating. My photos will guide you through most of the cemeteries. I just want to share a few notes of what was most interesting to me.

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First, the Chinese influence in these cemeteries is huge. At least six cemeteries have extensive new burial areas filled with the distinctive black or brown granite upright stones. Most of these cemeteries also provided funerary burners. These are free-standing brick or masonry structures, typically with a steel door and tin exhaust stack. They are used to burn spiritual tributes, specifically cardboard facsimiles of money, clothing, possessions, homes which the deceased can then use in the afterlife.

Americans, no matter where they come from (other than China apparently), are increasingly turning to cremation and disposition outside of cemeteries. To see vital new areas of graves and to see cemeteries creating entire new areas to attract these burials was surprising. It is the Chinese market that is driving the expansion of cemetery property in Colma.

Cypress Lawn, with three large sites in Colma, is developing their most recent site with several unique styles of grave offerings. Many of these use low hedges or walls to cordon off a plot, echoing to how graves were once separated in the 1800s and 1900s. There is a large fountain near the entrance with semi-enclosed wall of niches, and two granite parapets out over their man-made lake with perhaps 50 to 100 memorial plaque locations.

Across the valley, Woodlawn has installed two scattering gardens with extensive plantings, stepping stones, benches and many small granite memorial plaques. Access is not easy; impossible for anyone in a wheelchair, or using a walker or crutches.

Also catering to the Chinese (and other populations) is Colma’s casino, Lucky Chances. Opened in 1998 after a significant dissent in the town, Lucky Chances is a 60-table cardroom with over 650 employees. After a few hands of Texas Hold’em, you can play Pai Gow. The business is one of Colma’s few tax staples and is meant to keep the living side of the town alive and well.

What Memorial Park Faze?

If cemetery history can surface a faze, it was memorial parks. Hubert Eaton reopened Forest Lawn Cemetery as Forest Lawn Memorial Park in 1917 and set off a nationwide transformation of the cemetery industry. He introduced the policy and practice of flat markers (and an absence of raised markers) in acres of grass, and organized the cemetery as a profitable business.

[Note: Click on the arrows to advance the images.]

His success was immediate and notable. While the popular culture made fun of his new model of burial, cemeteries across the country saw the numbers. Eaton’s success was surprising and astronomical. Many cemeteries simply changed their name to capitalize on the phenomenon. In Colma, Woodlawn and Greenlawn, both launched in the era of lawn park cemeteries, added Memorial Park to their names. Some cemeteries in places outside Colma went further and set down policies that required flat markers. Other cemeteries set aside new sections as flat-marker-only sections.

What is universally apparent in Colma is that, with the exception of a few name changes, and a smattering of flat markers, sometimes gathered into relatively small sections, the memorial park wave passed right over Colma.

My Favorites

Cemeteries develop from open land to used-up graves, then sections and then entire cemeteries. The character of a cemetery is so unique. You can see some images from some cemeteries and not be able to tell which cemetery they come from. In Colma, this is less often the case. The ethnic burial grounds have largely retained their base populations.

Then there is the plan.

Each cemetery has a plan of use. In some cases the plan is quite simple. Rows, or the rows are varied by type of grave, or have policies and sometimes basic development applied, or are broken up with larger plots. Cemeteries with the luxury of space spread it over the rows and plots, allowing in light, grasses, flowers and trees.

Thus, entering each cemetery you have a qualitative experience of space or density, and of the breadth of expression. In general, the Serbian and Jewish cemeteries were fairly dense and largely uniform in their expression – size, color, and treatment of markers. The Chinese markers also show a uniformity that is broken only by what appears to be a recent drive to display wealth with larger, more uniquely designed stones. Holy Cross is an airy haven with grassy avenues among the grave and mausoleums.

My favorites turned out to be the Italian Cemetery and the Japanese Cemetery. The Japanese have a reputation of finely wrought, and sometimes quite bold, artwork. This is apparent in the Japanese Cemetery. Massive stones, sometimes with sweeping, deep-cut carved characters, surround the entry circle. Alternately, some of these huge stones carry ordered rows of small, intimately cut characters. Walking deeper in – this is perhaps the smallest of all the cemeteries in Colma – the stones show a surprising level of uniqueness and artistry. Other cultures begin to seem derivative in the face of this wealth.

The Italian Cemetery is a display of the derivative, but of one felt and expressed deeply, making the apparent mimic a compelling, dark, solo voice. The Italian Cemetery is composed of sections and rows, each with similar memorials. There are tightly spaced, nearly identical mausoleums, raised sarcophagi trued to each other to the micrometer, and rows of lichen-masked angels. The effect overall is of a full expression. The effect at the detailed level is of that as well. In between, the replication of stones becomes a field for seeing. I spent the better part of two hours in the Italian Cemetery. Beautiful.


The Silent Highway: King City and San Lucas Cemeteries

Written by admin on February 14th, 2014

I met Joe in King City. He’s the caretaker at the King City Cemetery. “I’ve been here eight years.” He took me to the beautiful Lizz marker that they recently reconstructed. “It was just piled up over there,” he said. In the 1980s, he explained, “Someone came through and just knocked every one of these markers over.” Most markers are missing a top knob or ball. A threaded bar pokes up, empty.

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Yes, he likes the work, except for the mowing. “You should really talk to the manager. He’s been here twenty-three years.”

“You’ll see one half of the cemetery has crosses…” Joe let’s that hang out there. We’re standing among graves with crosses. I look across the road at the markers with willows, gates, or just plain text. “Catholics,” he explains, “and Protestants.” I’m not so sure about that. I’ve known many Protestants to grace a grave with a cross.

“These two,” he shrugs, “I pressure-washed them. They were covered in moss or lichen. I don’t know if I should have.” He’s looking to me for an answer because I’ve told him I’m a cemetery historian – mainly so he wouldn’t kick me out because its after hours and he clearly wanted to lock the gate. I said, “If the family were here and alive, they’d do the same thing.” I believe they would. Or should.

As I was leaving, Joe asked, “Which way are you heading?” I said, “South.” “Well, you have to stop by San Lucas. They have a really nice little strange cemetery.”

The Road to San Lucas

Joe gave me directions which were correct, but I didn’t follow them properly. He said, “You get off, turn left under the freeway, and you’ll see it there up on the right.” I didn’t see it there up on the right. I’d pictured a gate along the road, and I flew on by and went under the railroad tracks.

The short version of this is that I found Mario closing the gate on his driveway deep in the town of San Lucas and asked him. He spoke no English, and I have but poquito when it comes to Espanol. He got in my car and and we drove back the way I’d come. Mario is from Guatemala, and his lived in San Lucas two years. The restaurant was closed before he arrived. The public library was closed more recently. There is a school, and no other businesses.

Mario showed me the cemetery. It sits a hundred yards off the road, on a spur road. I drove him back home and then hurried back, watching the sun tilt into the evening haze.

San Lucas was a figment of the railroad, founded when the railroad reached it in 1886. King City, ten miles to the north, arrived the same year for the same reason. King City was originally Hog Town because a lot of pigs were raised in the area. The eponymous Charles King acquired the San Lorenzo land grant in 1884 and grew wheat. Both King City and San Lucas started post offices in 1887, becoming official.

Without the history to fill in the gaps, one can make some assumptions. King City, sitting down astride the river, and with a wider swath of flat lands nearby, could support growth more easily that San Lucas. San Lucas sits on a bluff well back from the river and the hills slip down behind the town limiting the farming potential. But these are assumptions. San Lucas has held tight for 125 years with hardly a business. King City, roughly the halfway mark between San Francisco and Los Angeles, successfully drains off the highway traffic into Burger Kings and Chevron Stations.

The San Lucas Cemetery is a wonderful little world. It is as quaint and soulful as the San Ramon Cemetery out along Foxen Canyon Road in Santa Barbara County. And is smaller, quieter, and more expressive.


October 2013 Cemetery Pieces on Noozhawk

Written by admin on October 26th, 2013

Three articles on the Santa Barbara Cemetery published by Noozhawk, with a little awesome branding…


authentic petry


Despite Time and Place, Santa Barbara Cemetery Has Little-Known Civil War Link

Santa Barbara Cemetery was founded in July 1867 and opened in 1868. That date carries meaning for both the cemetery and Santa Barbara.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, America entered a period of mourning. The mourning was not just for the 500,000 dead, but was more acutely, and more simply, for the sake of mourning itself. In part, the United States had so little past compared to Europe, and to counter that fact, we took ourselves very seriously. To be fair, Europe, and especially England, were deeply imbued with Victorian seriousness themselves, and so maybe we were just copying.

2013 Resignation

Nevertheless, American journals topped up with articles on what was proper, tasteful, meaningful and righteous. And death did not escape this attention. The procedures and meaning of death were rapidly and deeply transformed. Between 1865 and 1900 the number of individual graves (as opposed to family plots) exploded, embalming was introduced and became popular, funeral parlors sprang up, sprawling but well-tended cemeteries on the outskirts took the place of small five-acre rectangles near town, and along with this sea change came highly formalized rites of mourning… Read the rest on Noozhawk.


Santa Barbara Cemetery Ever-Shifting Amid Culture Trends, Ground Realities

“People are moving,” explained Randy Thwing, manager of the Santa Barbara Cemetery overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “The kids move on and no one feels like a particular place is home.”

Cemeteries are, for the most part, figments of our past. They are from a time when a family name anchored not only a plot at the cemetery, but generations in the community. The patchwork of plots at a cemetery were once reflected in a patchwork of businesses, residences and lives. But such families are now rare. On average, Americans move between cities or towns 12 times in our lives. Our links to towns and therefore cemeteries are becoming all but vapor.

Open since 1868, and founded in 1867, the Santa Barbara Cemetery at 901 Channel Drive is 146 years old this year. I wrote a history of the cemetery, The Best Last Place: The History of the Santa Barbara Cemetery, which was published in 2006, and have given as many as 10 tours a year there since 1997. It’s time for an update… Read the rest on Noozhawk.


Empty Graves and Eternal Space at the Santa Barbara Cemetery

We think of cemeteries filling up. But like most things we think, we find we are — in unexpected and odd ways — wrong.

Santa Barbara Cemetery, founded in 1867, opened its (not very pearly) gates in 1868. The only plots you could purchase were 25-foot-by-25-foot family plots. Each plot was bordered on all four sides by a pathway or a road. The appearance on paper was striking. The cemetery was regimented, complete, stable.


First plot map of the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Order on linen did not make order on the ground.

On the earth, pathways and roads never materialized. What took shape were the slow proliferation of cared-for plots. Families such as the John Peck Sternses or the Pierces erected a family stone and then laid down six-inch by eight-inch by 10-foot sandstone curbs around their plots. The stone borders were set at the corners and plot midpoints with raised stone posts, typically about two-feet tall, tapering gently, sometimes to a simply formed stone ball at the top. Between the posts, a foot or so off the ground, a two-inch steel rod was run, creating a barrier to entry… Read the rest on Noozhawk.

Information about recent or upcoming tours.


2013 Santa Barbara Cemetery All Hallows Walking Tours

Written by admin on September 24th, 2013

Two tours:

Saturday, October 26, 10 am to 12:30 pm


Sunday, October 27, 1 pm – 3:30 pm



Meet at the Santa Barbara Cemetery Chapel,

901 Channel Drive, Santa Barbara


10 minutes early to park and pay




Hat, camera, water, questions.


David Petry is the author of The Best Last Place: A History of the Santa Barbara Cemetery. After 10 years of research and over 1,000 cemeteries visited, Petry takes you through Santa Barbara history, the evolution of cemeteries in Santa Barbara and in the United States, and visits the interesting and strange at the Santa Barbara Cemetery, founded 1867.

The tour starts in the world-famous cemetery chapel (architects George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs, murals (world-famous all by themselves), Alfredo Ramos Martinez), You then walk through the mausoleum and then out on the grounds. The tour traverses the oldest section (Montecito), the Veteran’s section, the Chinese burial area, the Santa Barbara founders area, and stops by a few of the cemetery’s screen stars. You get the story of the pyramid, the Ronald and Nancy Reagan (almost) burial site, and of the most expensive private mausoleum west of the Mississippi. You’ll stop for a gaze across the wall at the Huguette Clark Estate (soon to be a cultural center/museum) and glimpse the manse of Beanie Baby mogul Ty Warner. You’ll walk about a mile over grassy ground.


Not needed.

Contact for questions:

805 689 3423



March 18 Talk on Puritan Ice at Lompoc Valley Historical Society

Written by admin on March 11th, 2013

This Monday, March 18, 2013, the Lompoc Valley Historical Society is sponsoring a talk by David Petry about the Puritan Ice Companies. Puritan Ice, based in Santa Barbara, was founded in 1922 specifically to develop the produce business of the Guadalupe and Lompoc valleys.  By 1930, Puritan had ice manufacturing sites in Santa Barbara, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Atascadero, and through a buy-out of Ord Ice, Oxnard and Ventura. In 1942 they expanded to Blythe, California.

The company helped create the primary economic resources of the regions they entered, and they found themselves at pivotal points of American and California history. This fascinating company recalls a time not long gone and reveals an infrastructure still powerfully important to this country’s wealth and well-being.

Mr. Petry’s recent book, The Puritan Ice Companies: The Ice Empire of California’s Central Coast will be available for purchase for a reduced rate of $15.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Attendance is $20. Dinner will be served.  Please RSVP to the Society at 805-735-4626

Location is the New Life Christian Church, 816 North C Street, Lompoc.

View some images from Puritan’s Lompoc years.

Puritan Ice Companies cover


Puritan Santa Barbara – Amazing New Images from 1922

Written by admin on December 18th, 2012

John Woodward unearthed some images taken by Etta Faulding at the 1922 opening of the Puritan Ice plant in Santa Barbara. John has given us permission to display them here.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, exterior with delivery trucks, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, exterior with delivery trucks, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Drivers in two of the old REO Speedwagon delivery vans. Puritan, like many ice companies at the time, distributed ice cream, because the ice plant was the best place to store the inventory. Puritan distributed Hughes Ice Cream. Probably (but not certainly) TP Dalzell (left) and Leon Phillips on the loading dock. Unknown individual behind them. The construction materials in the foreground are likely indicative of a recently completed ice conveyor and platform. The trailer behind one of the delivery vehicles… Not sure, but possibly used to transport larger quantities of ice to citrus packing houses.

Puritan Ice house 002

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, exterior with PFE rail cars, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

This is a pretty cool image. Pacific Fruit Express, founded in 1906, built 6600 cars in their first year. The foreground car, numbered 4404, may have been an early PFE car. This Etta Faulding image also shows the original icing platform (later on, rail spurs would line up on both sides of the platform) and the ‘ice rats,’ ready to ice the cars.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, opening day crowd, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, opening day crowd, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Recognize anyone? There are 53 men in the image. The man in white, to the mid-far right, probably worked for Puritan. Though this was at the height of Prohibition, many individuals appear to be cradling beverages with the reverence due a fine rum or whiskey. I’ll admit: no idea why the hatches on the foreground PFE car are so much thicker than the others. Many of the men appear to be looking west along the tracks, perhaps watching a train approach or depart.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, opening day celebration, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, opening day celebration, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

This is Santa Barbara 1922. Civic boosterism, Fords, suits, a couple nice hats, and beautiful white ice.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, ice blocks on icing platform, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, ice blocks on icing platform, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

The white ice was for the rail cars. Domestic ice was clear. Santa Barbara produced both.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, interior, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Puritan Ice Santa Barbara, interior, 1922, photo by Etta Faulding. John Woodward collection.

Inside the Santa Barbara ice plant. Compressors ran on the far side. Ice was created in brine tanks beneath the oak plank flooring. Note the hinges in the planks to access the ice cans. Towards the rear of the plant, you can see an ice rat pulling three ice cans from the brine tank using an overhead crane. Another ice rat looks on from the machinery floor.

And one more:

Puritan Ice promoted the William Howard-directed “The Thundering Herd” film by Paramount based on the Zane Grey novel in mid-1925.

Photo by Etta Faulding (most likely) 1925. John Woodward collection.

Photo by Etta Faulding (most likely) 1925. John Woodward collection.

See more images of Puritan Ice in Santa Barbara.

Return to the Puritan Ice homepage.





Puritan – The Labels

Written by admin on December 11th, 2012

Puritan Ice launched and ran California Lettuce Growers and, during WWII, California Vegetable Growers. In Blythe, they acquired California Produce. And their sites in Guadalupe, Lompoc, and Blythe provided space for packing sheds of numerous companies. This gallery displays some of the colorful packing labels iced and shipped through Puritan.

Don’t forget to buy the book, The Puritan Ice Companies: The Ice Empire of California’s Central Coast.

And check out images from other regions where Puritan flourished.

A Few From Guadalupe

Guadalupe Balliwick

Guadalupe Bear ‘N Mind

Guadalupe Grubstake

Guadalupe Big Western

Guadalupe Big Western 2

Guadalupe Byco

Guadalupe Seaview

Guadalupe Oso Flaco

Guadalupe Minami

Guadalupe Minami Vindicator

Guadalupe Koyama

Guadalupe Hirase RH

Guadalupe Home Run King

Guadalupe California Bear


Puritan Ice – Blythe, After

Written by admin on December 8th, 2012

Puritan Ice entered into “the desert deal” in 1944. They iced the melon and vegetable shipments and supplied Patton’s Desert Training Center. And they expanded…

Don’t forget to buy the book, The Puritan Ice Companies: The Ice Empire of California’s Central Coast.

And check out images from other regions where Puritan flourished.

Former site of Puritan Cattle along the Colorado River is now McIntyre Park.


Arriving on Ice Plant Road. The old Blythe Ice building is visible at the end of the road.


Blythe Ice, front, 2010.


Blythe Ice Plant – front


Kathy Cusick, Fisher Ranch, gave the site tour. South yard, 2010.


Ammonia compressor, 2010.


Associated Refrigeration Engineers plaque, the original plant designers and builders.


Blythe Ice Plant South Wall Interior


Blythe Ice Storage North Wall


Ice shredder, interior


Ice shredder arm, exterior


Ice prongs, Blythe Ice.


Blythe Ice Vacuum Precooling


The beautiful blue south wall. Blythe Ice.


Return to the historic Blythe Ice page.

Return to the Puritan Ice home page.


Puritan Ice – Becomes Blythe Ice

Written by admin on December 8th, 2012

Puritan Ice entered into “the desert deal” in 1944. They iced the melon and vegetable shipments and supplied Patton’s Desert Training Center. And they expanded…

Don’t forget to buy the book, The Puritan Ice Companies: The Ice Empire of California’s Central Coast.

And check out images from other regions where Puritan flourished.


Blythe Ice circa 1945. Cock-eyed family photo from the Phillip’s collection.


Donald Dalzell circa 1945.


Sidney Grande and Sidney Jr. Sr. ran the ice plant. Later Sid Jr. took over.


Sidney Grande Sr. on the Blythe Ice loading platform circa 1950.


One of the logos for Patton’s Desert Training Center. 1944-46.


End of the war iced vegetables scheme: air freight via USAF.


1958 Palo Verde Equipment, one of many Puritan Companies.


1984 Palo Verde Equipment.


1994 USGS aerial of the Blythe Ice site.


2010 aerial with callouts on buildings remaining on site. Property is now owned by Fisher Ranch.


2010 aerial detail with callouts.


Blythe Ice as it looked in 2010.

Check out Blythe Ice as it looked in 2010.

Return to the Puritan Ice home page.


Puritan Ice – Oxnard

Written by admin on December 7th, 2012

Puritan Ice purchased Ord Ice of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Oxnard in 1924. Two years later, facing down the bigger and more powerful Union Ice in Oxnard, they sold the plant and most of the equipment to Union. There are very few images available from the Oxnard era, or of Emmett Ord. If you have any, or any information, please let us know!

Don’t forget to buy the book, The Puritan Ice Companies: The Ice Empire of California’s Central Coast.

And check out images from other regions where Puritan flourished.

Ord Ice Contest in Oxnard Daily Courier.


Upper portion of the Ord Ice ad for the 1929 Fiesta edition of the Morning Press in Santa Barbara.


Lower portion of the Ord Ice ad for the 1929 Fiesta edition of the Morning Press in Santa Barbara.


The massive Union Ice plant in Oxnard, circa 1936.

Return to the Puritan Ice home page.