Preserved Trucks of Recology:
Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Disposal
San Francisco, California

Courtesy of Ken Stewart, with annotation by Micah Gibson


    Beginning in 1896 when open refuse dumping was banned in San Francisco, the business of hauling garbage became a necessary service for San Francisco residents and businesses. Garbage service first began with independent "scavengers" who hauled garbage and recyclable materials away in horse-drawn wagons, such as this vehicle. The scavengers carefully sorted the refuse to save anything that might be saleable such as rags, bottles, paper, and metal.

1923 WHITE

    In 1916, a number of independent refuse collectors came together to form what is today Recology Sunset Scavenger. They benefited from this collective by pooling their equipment and resources. The venture was formalized by incorporation in 1920. Another group of collectors also joined forces and established the Scavenger's Protective Association. This group was incorporated in 1921 and today is known as Recology Golden Gate Disposal. This 1923 truck was used by Sunset Scavenger in San Francisco and took the place of the horse-drawn wagon. It picked up garbage in residential areas and was used until the early 1940s.


    This 1929 Model A was used by Sunset Scavenger as a support vehicle to the collection trucks. Support vehicles would provide collectors with additional burlap sacks, garbage cans, and other assistance. Today, route trucks continue to be used to maintain a high quality of service to San Francisco customers. The Ford Model A series was produced from 1927 to 1931, and replaced the Model T, which was the first affordable, mass-produced automobile. Model A vehicles were available in a wide variety of styles; coupes, sedans, station wagons, convertibles, taxi cabs, and this truck style.


    Used in the 1940s and 1950s for refuse collection in the Vacaville area, this 1941 Chevrolet truck has a custom built chassis. The dump box was modified by the garbage company for collection use. Chevrolet introduced a new front end on its vehicles in 1941 and trucks, such as this vehicle, became larger, with a wider wheelbase and more power. Today Recology continues to service the Vacaville area, which is also home to one of Recology's composting facilities.

1948 WHITE

    In service from 1948 to the mid 1960s, this truck was used by Sunset Scavenger for refuse collection in San Francisco residential neighborhoods such as the Sunset, Richmond, Mission and Potrero Hill. Today this truck can be seen driving the routes of San Francisco's parades as part of Recology's parade contingent. The White Motor Company initially produced both cars and trucks, but soon began to exclusively make trucks. Following World War II, the company produced only large trucks. This post-war era marked the peak of White truck popularity, and vehicles were recognized for their quality.


    Trucks such as this 1950 DeMartini collected refuse in San Francisco from the 1940s to the 1960s. This vehicle was used by the Scavenger's Protective Association for routes in the Financial District, Marina District, and Fisherman's Wharf area. Trucks were staffed by three workers. One collector and the driver would carry cans on their backs, often up steep stairs, while another worker would stay on the truck bed, sorting materials for recycling.


    This 1951 DeMartini truck was used by West Coast Salvage until the 1970s to collect paper and cardboard for recycling. The DeMartini Truck Company was founded in San Francisco in 1919. Its office and manufacturing facility were located at 457 Pacific Street. Owner George J. DeMartini saw the potential in building specialized trucks for local government services, such as garbage collection. The company made trucks at its plant in San Francisco until 1955, and Mr. DeMartini continued to supply parts for garbage trucks into the 1970s.


    In the mid-1960s new technology enabled collection trucks to have compaction capabilities, and open bed trucks were phased out in favor of these new rear-loading vehicles. Larger and heavier, the rear loaders required special towing and maintenance. This 1969 Peterbilt was specially built with a Holmes wrecker and was used until the late 1980s to tow and service rear loader collection trucks.



© 2012 Eric Voytko
All rights reserved
Photos courtesy of Recology
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