Spreckels is one of the best-preserved company towns in the United States. It is located just off Highway 68 west, only a few miles from Salinas city limits. This quaint town was built to house workers for the Spreckels Sugar Company plant, which operated there from 1899 until 1982. Spreckels was named after its founder “Sugar King” Claus Spreckels. When it opened, the Spreckels plant was the world’s largest sugar beet factory, each day consuming 13 million gallons of water (much of it pumped from wells) to process 3000 tons of beets.
Spreckels is also associated with the writer John Steinbeck, who lived and worked there for a time, and used it as a setting in Tortilla Flat. (Spreckels was used as a location for the 1955 Steinbeck movie East of Eden.)
Real Estate remained relative small in size until in 2004 controversy erupted when the Tanimura family, declared that a 1907 plat in its possession gave it the right to build 73 housing units on its land. This was an act which would increase the town’s size by 40%! A legal battle over the status and definition of “antiquated maps” ensued. In an out-of-court settlement, the Tanimura company agreed to a requirement that the Spreckels houses maintain the style and spirit of the town. Although the lots have white picket fences and landscaping, developers failed to avoid a “cookie-cutter” design. The new Spreckels homes are large and set close together and generally uniform in appearance. Spreckels is also home to Spreckels Elementary School as well as a beautiful park located in the center of the town. You can find residents enjoying the park, playing with their dogs, tennis and basketball courts, as well as great events put on by the volunteer fire department! This town is not to be missed!