And the answer to last week’s “What am I” mystery item: It’s a retort!
What was a retort used for? During the cannery’s operational days, the retort cooked the raw salmon in the cans. This steam-powered pressure-cooker would kill all bacteria and other organisms in the fish, ensuring that it could be safely eaten.
Cooking, however, was not the only use of this colossal machine! Today, Steveston may look quaint and quiet, but during its cannery heyday, it was quite a different story. Steveston, believe it or not, was a rough-and-tumble town with a number of saloons, brothels, gambling dens, and opium dens —and a lot of lawlessness. So much lawlessness that, when the jail ran out of room for tipsy townspeople, they’d be tossed into a retort! No, we didn’t cook them. The door of the retort would be closed up, with a little bit of room for air, and was used as a ‘drunk tank’ instead!
Come see this machine and many more at the Cannery, open daily from 10am to 5 pm, and learn the unique stories that accompany each one!
Next week’s mystery:
Good luck! And keep the guesses coming!