......An industry which has helped to make Pleasanton famous and an ever-apparent demonstration of the fertility of the acres surrounding the town.
The cultivation of hops in Pleasanton is but another instance of the fertility and productive possibilities of the land in this locality; this, coupled with the fact that the climatic conditions are ideal, makes hop culture a profitable undertaking. The hop fields of Pleasanton are owned by the Pleasanton Hop Company, of which Mr. E. R. Lilienthal, est stockholders. The company was of San Francisco, is one of the largest-incorporated in 1893 and 300 acres of land were purchased lying west of and adjacent to Pleasanton. [sic] Here buildings were erected, equipped with every modern invention applicable to hop culture and to facilitate the labor from the time the soil is plowed until the hops are ready for market. There are few hop fields in the world where the business has been reduced more nearly to a science.
The land was formerly covered by a lagoon designated by the early Spanish residents as "bolsa," or basin, and which was reclaimed by a system of canals excavated by a steam dredger.
The hop yard is set out with 6x6 poles 16 feet high, 42 feet apart each way; in each row between the poles are six rows of vines. Across the tops of the poles from the east to west runs a heavy cable wire, while a lighter trellis wire runs from north to south, supporting strings to which the hop vines are trained. Several million pounds of wire are used for the network of overhead trellis. The strings upon which the hops are trained are attached to stakes driven in the ground. The hop fields are traversed by regular avenues, and during the season of growth present a picturesque appearance, the graceful clusters of hops hanging like so many tiny bells.
After the rainy season is over, the ground is plowed and the hop roots are pruned of the old growth of wood. Then from each hill three lines of strings are stretched, fanwise, to the trellis above; when the new shoots appear, the three hardiest looking are trained to the three strings. From this time on the land is constantly cultivated and kept free from weeds. The hop vines make a rapid and luxuriant growth and during the hop-picking season many tons' weight is sustained by the poles, wires and strings. If these should give way, it would make it much more difficult to pick the crop.
In their climbing, the hops insist on being trained from right to left, so that they may follow the sun, declining to grow upon any other terms; each night the head of the plant points toward the setting sun. Because of the fact that hops require almost constant care, and cultivation of the grounds, many men are employed at the yards at all times; the men have comfortable quarters, reading room and bathroom being provided, besides a spacious dining room and a bedroom for each man.
Besides the house for the manager, there are barns, two large warehouses, three batteries of four large kilns each, an engine house, and other buildings; everything being of modern construction.
The kilns have immense "hoppers," into which the green hops are hoisted by an elevator, where they are spread on burlap over wooded gratings. They are dried and sulphured here and are then raked into cars and transferred on elevated tracks to the baling rooms, where they are cooled for some weeks and then pressed into large bales.
These kilns are equipped with oil burners and during the picking season are kept in operation night and day, the roar of the fires, especially at night when all else is quiet, being almost deafening.
Then the hop vines have climbed and twined upward until they have reached the trellis, sixteen feet from the ground, they droop the rest of their growth over the wires in graceful clusters, like thick draperies, as if to shield the roots from too much sun, yet so light that the whole curtain swings in all its length to the gentlest breeze.
With favorable weather the hops are ready for picking by the end of August, but cool, foggy weather somewhat retards their growth, and if that kind of weather prevails during July and August, the date of picking is later. The picking season usually lasts from three to four weeks, and must be begun when the hops begin to "turn," lest those which hang longest become over-ripe. The exact date of picking is announced throughout the State by the daily papers and by placards. Many hundreds of pickers, including men, women and children, are given employment; these pickers come from all parts of the State. Provision is made for them, in lieu of adequate inside sleeping quarters, by means of tent camps, laid out under the direction of the superintendent, Mr. H. W. Furlong, with every modern and sanitary convenience. The tents and other accommodations, the supply wagons running through camp, the dances arranged and the other comforts provided, all point to the management's endeavor to accord their employees and pickers an enjoyable time during the picking season. This custom of the company's has no doubt largely been the means of making the Pleasanton hop-picking season one of the most popular periods of the year locally and at the same time attracted a larger number of pickers than would otherwise be inclined to labor here.
The water supply is adequate and pure, and there are several artesian wells in the yards, easy of access. The yards, lying as they do, adjacent to the town and half a mile from the railroad depot, are reached very easily, luggage and passenger conveyances meeting all trains during the picking season and while pickers are coming and going.
The work of picking the hops is light and pleasant, and with a little experience a fair wage can be earned, and hundreds of families make it the occasion of a profitable as well as pleasant outing.
When the hops are in full bearing, the crop will average 1,600 to 2,000 pounds per acre of dried hops, which is equal to three and one-half tons when green.
The bales of hops are wrapped in burlap, each bale being neatly and securely sewn into its covering and then shipped to London, the principal hop market, where they always command a premium,
Hops from Pleasanton were reported to be used at Guinness.
On Hopyard Road in Pleasanton the Hop Yard Amercian Alehouse & Grill.
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