Another landmark business from the city of Kent appears in Danny’s Early Morning Milk. In the wake of the hops industry’s failure and as dairy farming became a stabilizing force in the regional economy, milk production grew rapidly in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Unlike hops, which were dried locally and could be shipped far and wide, fresh milk in the days before refrigeration could travel only within a highly limited radius no more than a few hours from the cows that produced it. In 1899, milk output and the prospects for more production in the Valley had reached a great enough threshold for the Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company to commence operation. 5,800 pounds of fresh milk were needed to make 55 cases of evaporated milk around the turn of the century, and about 3000 cans were produced daily.
Without having to worry about spoilage, Kent farmers were able to reach more distant markets, to satisfy consumer demands farther afield. The facility in turn spurred more dairy farming and helped the economy to both stabilize and grow.
In this painting, Danny captures the color of the early morning hours before dawn, as farmers were bringing in their milk for processing.
The Kent Public Library, where the painting hangs today, stands on the site of the building that housed the original condenser, which was purchased used from a company in Montana for the sum of $5,000.00. With a change in ownership, the operation notably came to be the original, founding home of the Carnation Dairy, which expanded up and down the west coast.
Oil on canvas
Kent Regional Library