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COW HOLLOW SANITATION SCANDAL c. 1900

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Chinese vegetable gardens, c. 1880s, below Pacific Heights at apx. today's Union and Gough Streets in "Cow Hollow"

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

"It is absolutely necessary, in order to get pure milk," said Health Officer Dr. Keeney to a Daily Report reporter, while on their way to "Cow Hollow" yesterday, "that the cow and all her surroundings should be kept clean, that the water she gets to drink should be pure and her food of the best. If these points are not attended to the milk will suffer, and eventually become filled with bacteria. If some one were to start out and search California from end to end, they could hardly find a more unsuitable place in which to keep cows than 'Cow Hollow.'

"The first place we will visit," said the doctor, with a smile, "will be the waterfall." The reporter looked at the medico in surprise, and the latter said, "The public generally are not aware they have such a beautiful sight at their doors, but you will see it in a few moments and then you can judge for yourself." Dr. Keeney led the way into a field and a few yards from Pacific street was the "waterfall" - the Franklin-street sewer. The water came pouring out in a turbid, foul stream and fell about thirty feet into a gully. "That is a nice state of affairs to allow in a thickly populated district and within one hundred yards of a public school," said the doctor.... Now, look at these cows. Some of them look well, while there are others that I am sure have tuberculosis. The milk from one consumptive cow will ruin the milk from 999 healthy animals. It is an undoubted fact that if milk from consumptive cows is fed to human beings it produces consumption.

All these cows are diseased more or less. Those that apparently look so well are bloated from being fed on refuse from the breweries. It is not healthy fat, but is like the fat a man puts on from drinking whisky. After being fed on this refuse for about a year, the cow begins to get thin, and finally becomes so weak as to be unable to stand. She is then killed and the meat finds its way into the sausage and canning factories.

"Look at the ulcers on that cow's teats. In the milking the sores run and the matter drops into the milk. Look at that pool of stagnant water. When the cows get thirsty they drink of it, and so the bacteria gets into the milk. About eighteen months ago there was a typhoid epidemic on the outskirts of the city. The matter was investigated by the Board of Health, and it was found that all the people who drank the milk brought from a certain 'ranch' took the disease. The ranch was investigated, and it was found that the only drinking water the cows had was in a stagnant pool. That pool was the cause of the epidemic.

... 'Cow Hollow' is a menace to the health of the city, and the Board of Health intends to recommend the instant removal of the cows outside the city limits."


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