Farewell to Dow Pumping

Francis Collins tears down eyesore to make way for his Boatworks project


Sunset Magazine

This photograph of the Dow Pumping Engine Company looks north toward the Oakland hills. When this photograph was taken in 1911, Dow was manufacturing a variety of products, including water pumps with an output of some 1,500 gallons per minute.


Dennis Evanosky

Workers deconstruct the eastern building of the Dow Pumping Engine Company. They tore down the company’s twin western structures last week. If all goes as planned, developer Francis Collins will build homes and condominiums on the site.

The Dow Pump & Diesel factory on Clement Avenue is nearing the end of its existence. The factory rose up on Clement Avenue in 1909 as the George E. Dow Pumping Engine Company, seven years after the Oakland Estuary was cut through to San Leandro Bay and deepened.

The company began life in 1890 San Francisco as the Dow Steam Pump Works. In 1899, company incorporated as the George E.

Dow Pumping Engine Company. According to historian Woody Minor it is the oldest surviving industrial property in Alameda.

The company's offices were not in Alameda, but in the Sheldon Building, at 461 Market St. in San Francisco. Dow lived in the Fairmont Hotel with his wife, Cora., and son, George Alvah Dow.

In 1907 the company closed a deal for the one of the largest pumping contract at the time for a pipeline for the Southern Pacific Company that led from from Bakersfield to Port Costa, at a cost of more than $1.5 million.

Two years later the company made its Alameda appearance, and four years after it built the factory, changed its name to the Dow Pump & Diesel Company.

The demand for ships during the First World War caused Dow to shift the majority of its output to diesel engines, Minor stated in an August 2008 edition of the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society newsletter.

By the time the war came to and end, Dow was employing some 600 workers at its Clement Avenue plant.


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