According to our research, the Western Creamery’s farewell luncheon was held on-site June 30, 1927, heralding the official closure of this once profitable business. The new owners, Dairy Dale Creamery, closed the plant, requiring the 15 remaining employees (down from the 40 or so of yesteryear) to look for other positions.
The photo documenting the closure event was obscured by handwritten notes, so I opted for this one instead, which features the creamery ladies dazzlingly outfitted in similar white dresses, aprons, and mob caps, calling to mind the stylized country milkmaids of long ago. The men are also in white; I’m presuming that the gentleman with a bow tie could be the manager. The creamery’s receiving station—one of 40 situated throughout California—was located on the Benicia waterfront, and the plant was supplied with milk via steamers from approximately 200 dairies along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.
The Creamery produced Isleton Brand butter, “perhaps the best butter in the state” according to the book “Great Expectations” by Richard S. Dillon, and the most expensive. Their motto, “Made today, sold tomorrow,” would seem to justify a higher cost. At its height, the plant produced 3,000,000 pounds of butter a year and was the largest creamery west of Denver. The company survived damage from the 1906 earthquake, and both a fire and the collapse of its loading wharf due to an infestation of Atlantic shipworm in 1913, so we can only postulate the reason for its closure. It may have been as a result of the opening of the Carquinez Bridge, which provided both the dairy farmers and creameries easier and less expensive receiving and shipping options. There were other economic factors affecting the country as a whole—the country was sliding towards the 1929 Great Depression, which began with the stock market crash and lasted until 1939. Whatever the reason, it seems a pity we no longer have a hometown butter brand with which to spread our bread.