Today in History: Sperry Mill Fire (April 2, 1882)


Sperry Flour Mills in the 1880s, postcard was reproduced by the Haggin Museum

Sperry Flour Mills in the 1880s, postcard was reproduced by the Haggin Museum

“One of the most spectacular fires ever seen in the city was that which destroyed the City Flouring Mills of Sperry & Company on Sunday afternoon, April 2, 1882.” The tall burning structure along the south shore of the Channel on Levee (Weber) and Beaver (Madison) Streets was right next to a grain storage facility which is referred to as the Waterfront Warehouse today.

The brick Sperry Flour Mill was built in 1852 and was an important part of Stockton’s earliest and most significant industry. The company grew into a company with seventeen mills across three states and becoming one of the nation’s most famous milling companies. Initially, the mill’s wheat supply was imported from Napa and Martinez, but by 1856 wheat became the San Joaquin Valley’s main crop.

The Sperry Flour Mill found itself in the center of one of the largest grain growing regions in the nation. The company expanded in 1860 and became famous for its flour labels, such as “Drifted Snow Flour.” The waterfront location allowed Sperry to ship flour throughout the country and the world. 

Source: History of the Stockton Fire Department, 1850-1908 by the Firemen’s Pension and Relief Fund (1908).

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