Paso Robles Brickyards

Editor’s Note: Paso’s 125th anniversary celebration has ended, but we came across this story in the files and realized it didn’t get posted and we wanted to share it because it’s pretty cool. Enjoy!

by Harold Franklin

The Paso Robles area had most of the materials for its inhabitants to build their homes and businesses. The Salinan Indians had the brush and tule mats to build their homes. The Spanish had the adobe bricks they needed wherever they built. They had brought that skill from Spain to the New World with them. The plentiful adobe was mixed with enough water to make it gooey by working it with bare feet. Plopped by handfuls into a four inch deep 12 inch wide and 30 inch long wooden frame, the adobe was carried nearby where a handful of straw or pine needles was pushed into the adobe as a binder and the full frame dumped upside down on the ground. The frame was carefully pulled up by its four handles and the brick allowed to sun dry. Later it was turned on nits edge and fully dried. The bricks were set on to the walls using adobe mud.

The Iverson’s built two adobe houses in the Union district when they came, along with other adobe buildings in the area.

Wooden boards were brought to the area by ship to Cayucos, San Simeon, Cambria and Port Harford from the northern woods.  The wood was expensive and used carefully after brought by wagon to Paso Robles.  After the train came in 1886 lumber became more economical over the years.

Fired bricks were used in building the first buildings of Paso Robles from the early 1880’s to the 1920’s, many of them two story with a basement. No reinforcing iron was used. Many of the early settlers were brick masons.

Paso Robles Brick Yard was located between 17th and 18th Streets, from the Southern Pacific Railroad property to the edge of Riverside Street. It was started in the early 1870’s. By the 1920’s , it was a pit 30 feet deep and a block long and nearly that wide. A 10 foot wide well was on the south side of 17th Street west of the present Dr. Brad Dyck’s office.

Richard “Dick” Blake was born cattycorner from the brick yard in 1921 at 1624 Riverside Street. When a small boy a family lived in a house in the pit and had chicken sheds where they raised White Leghorn hens for their eggs. Bricks were no longer being made there.

A strip of land on the west side of Riverside Street had several buildings on it. Dick worked for Mr. Nance plumbing in Paso Robles while in high school 1937 to 1942 when Dick went into the U.S. Military. The last house they plumbed after Dick got out of the military was Jim Claassen’s house on the hilltop south of Union Road in the almond orchard. Mr. Nance died of pneumonia and Dick bought his business.

Photo shows the Tolle House, built in 1888, on Paso’s west side

On the northwest corner of 17th and Riverside Streets, was the remains of the old 2nd Baptist Church. Mr. Nance had his plumbing supplies in the old dilapidated building. Dick had also bought an old shack beside the church. A Mrs. Casteel lived in the two roomed building and when she moved out, Dick gave the old building to a local boy, who moved it down in the river. A flood washed it away. Jim Rude owned the rest of the strip and he sold it to Frank Blake, Dick’s brother, and Ole Viborg. Dick and Frank bought the old brick yard and it became Blake’s Plumbing for many years. The pit and the well had been filled in by the contractor when the 1012 Freeway was built in1955 to 1956.

John Schroeder was another local plumber and when Dick got home from the War on Saturday, John phoned and asked him to work for him Monday. Dick agreed and they finished plumbing Dr. Strahn’s office building on Vine Street. John died soon after that and Dick took over his business. John was my Grandmother’s next youngest brother, coming here in 1896.

Peter Johnson had a brick yard and kiln on present Union Road and Barney Schwartz Park. Peter was born in Sweden February 2, 1847 and came to Iowa 1872. He married Inga Gamberg in Minnesota in 1872 and they moved near Elk Point, South Dakota on a homestead beside her parents. After farming for a few years, they came to the Linne Swedish Baptist settlement on Creston Road in May, 1888. After two months, he and his family of 9 children moved to what is now Barney Schwartz Park. They lived in an old shed or barn down by the Huero Huero River while he built a kiln and fired the bricks for their new brick home, which is still standing beside Union Road. The brick kiln was near where the present swimming pool of the Paso Robles Sports Club is built. The house was finished in 1889 or 1890 and his family moved into the house with its two stories.

Peter was a mechanical genius doing carpenter work, making and laying brick, a stone mason as well as cobbling shoes. His bricks found ready sale in the building of the new city of Paso Robles. He helped in the remodeling of the Baptist Church as well as building all the brick houses seen today along Park and 17th Streets, from 20th down to 14th Streets. Peter added to his original 80 acres another 160 acres. His youngest son, William, took over the place and owned it until it was purchased for the park.

Today all the bricks are machine made and fired with natural gas. They are standard in size and hard.

Harold Franklin

New Year’s Eve 2014: An Ode to the Past, Present and Future of Paso Robles

Well, this is it, folks. The Grand Finale of Paso Robles’ 125th anniversary year happens on New Year’s Eve. The very last day (or rather, night) of 2014 will be spent the way Paso loves best – throwing a party, enjoying each other’s company and perhaps pushing the envelope just a teensy bit with a fun event.

Glow in the dark face paintWe kicked off the year with fireworks on New Year’s Eve 2013; followed that up with a huge birthday party in March; threw a huge, traditional 4th of July celebration; brought a little extra old-fashioned flavor to Pioneer Day and now we are about to bid adieu to our Quasquicentennial year in a most interesting fashion.

But it’s kind of a secret. So you’ll have to show up to see how we launch 125 years of Paso Robles traditions into the future at the stroke of midnight.

Here’s what we can share with you:

2014 New Year’s Eve Finale
“Glow in the Park”
8PM to Midnight
Downtown City Park

Join us for a family-friendly event and a park full of free activities, all glow in the dark, followed by fun surprises, to celebrate the end of our Quasquicentennial year!

Glow-in-the-Dark Activities include:

  • Croquet
  • Horseshoes
  • Bocce Ball
  • Hula Hoop
  • Bubble Tunnel
  • Four Square
  • Paddle Ball
  • Corn Hole
  • Badminton
  • Football Toss
  • Giant Rolling Balls

Other Fun Additions:

  • Food Trucks
  • Glow in the Dark Face Painting
  • Live DJ
  • Party Tent
  • And a choreographed LIGHT SHOW! (Okay, the secret is out. But that’s all we’re saying about it.)

See you on New Year’s Eve in downtown Paso Robles!

Highway 101 Bypass, Turkeys and Wood Thieves

Most folks whizzing around Paso Robles on the 101 Highway probably do not think of all the folks and land taken to build the freeway. In our town it was a considerable amount of folks.

Historic_Highway_101From the north the railroad and highway overpass consumed the Schauf farm. This dairy and alfalfa farm was once owned by Arnold Carminiti. He had come to our area about 1900 and at first had a job of cutting oak trees and blasting  stumps out of the ground with dynamite.  His son Waldo said that his father then bought the small dairy that lay along the Salinas River bank. The dairy barn lay right against the river bank with its springs issuing out sulfur water. He had a still behind the barn that was never found by the officials with the strong sulfur smell. The boys herded the cattle along the river bank as they didn’t have enough grass along with some alfalfa, too.

The barn was dismantled in 2013 and a new barn built for the Sewer Farm and settling ponds. The house and other buildings had been dismantled years before. Arnold sold the place before 1920 and bought the farm on the east side of the river and the mouth of the Huer Huero River. The Shaufs bought the land and lived there until the freeway was begun about 1953.

     Hugh Black had the rest of the land from the farm to the railroad tracks and down to 24th street. It took out a good bit of his hatchery and poultry pens. In the 1930’s during the Depression Hugh Black would take several dozen big turkeys the first part of November up to the second story of the hotel above the store on the corner of 12th and Pine Streets. A crowd would gather on 12th Street below and turkeys would be tossed out the window and soar down to the ground. Whoever got a turkey could keep it.

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Paso Robles Six Decades Ago: People and Places

By Robert Flood
Author  of “Where the Old West Still Hangs Around”

Thanks to Harold Franklin, an old PRHS schoolmate, and other contributors for their anniversary postings. Let me add a few other memorable people and places.


Downtown Paso in the 1950’s

The Canary Cottage.  The café that long stood on the northeast corner of 12th and Spring. During the closing years of World War 2, our family–in from the Cholame Valley for Saturday shopping– would watch out its windows, as we lunched, the bumper to bumper traffic on Spring Street that stretched  from one end of town to the other.  Most were soldiers from Camp Roberts in town for the day.

Orcutt’s Market.  On 12th Street, the town’s modest “Albertson’s” of yesteryear. It’s where our family stocked up for the week before a 40-mile run back to our ranch. If you forgot an item you didn’t “run back to the store.” As a kid I eagerly collected bottle caps left by those who had opened pop, the copper-colored Hires root beer ones my favorite. I eventually nailed my collection  upside down on a rectangular board to create a foot scraper.


Paso Robles Mercantile

The Paso Robles Mercantile. The town’s main, if not only, general department store. The vacuum powered money transit tubes fascinated me.  J.C. Penney also had the system.

The Paso Robles Pharmacy. On 12th St. a few doors east of the Acorn Building.  The main attraction was its scales. We’d routinely weigh ourselves each week or so. The day my short-statured mother hit 149 pounds, she panicked and went on a diet.

The Paso Robles Inn. The mural of early California on its restaurant’s south wall fascinated me. As a kid I vaguely understood that a grand hotel once stood on this site, but I would have thought it a joke if someone had told me then that Jesse and Frank James had once hid out on this property. Or that it had also lodged the Premier of Poland and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Did Paderewski ever play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game?”

Some notable people:

Coach Roy Thomas. The early 50s were Bearcat football glory years. A great coach, but he seemed to wear a frequent scowl. I was afraid of him.

Martha Swanson, journalism teacher. Under her I decided my career.

JoAnn Shetler, my assistant as editor of the yearbook. In later years she and an associate translated the New Testament in the jungles of the Phillipines and that gospel transformed an entire tribe. Years later when she spoke at a triennial student missionary convention hosted at the University of Illinois, 17,000 delegates gave her a standing ovation.

Tom Barry, his dad publisher of the Paso Robles Press. He edged me out as valedictorian,

Norma (Della) Moye,  Bearcat head cheerleader.  She’s still a mover and shaker.

George Work of the Work Family Guest Ranch in Ranchita Canyon and late rancher Kent Hansen. Kent went on to Stanford. We all ran track together.

Dave Barlogio, rancher. At my recent book signing in Carnegie Library during the Olive Festival I saw him for the first time in 61 years. Later in the week at his ranch west of Templeton he had me board his long abandoned 1929 combine and grab the header wheel to get the feel once more of the grain harvest.

Gayle (Taylor) Kattar, cousin of local real estate figure Wade Taylor and an early-day Bearcat cheerleader. We also both attended Parkfield’s one-room school built in 1888. She’s lived for 31 years now in Massachusetts. Marlene Heaton sent her my book. Thrilled, she ordered two more.

Old_West_Front_Cover.pdf_largeWhere the Old West Still Hangs Around is carried by the Pioneer Museum, Carnegie Library, the Paso Robles Inn, the Cuesta College bookstore and other local retail stores. I now also have a website for your holiday gift shopping. Order on line at

Local Celebrity Judges for Bake Off at Pioneer Day

Local Celebrity Judges Announced for the 125th Anniversary BAKE OFF during Pioneer Day

With a theme of “Old Fashioned Funfair,” the Paso Robles 125th Anniversary celebration is teaming up with Pioneer Day to bring a few new elements to the City Park during the 2014 Pioneer Day in honor of the city’s Quasquicentennial year, including a BAKE OFF with local celebrity judges.  The event takes place on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

In addition to the local favorite parade and other activities, there are a handful of fun elements planned to keep people in the park after the parade, including a street dance, an ale garden to benefit local nonprofits, old-fashioned kids’ games and a BAKE OFF.

Bake Off
Got a famous recipe for apple pie, cobbler or cupcakes? Bring your creation down to the park before the Pioneer Day parade for your chance to win bragging rights and recognition in the local media.

Entries will fall into one of three categories: Amateur, Professional and Youth (under 18). No charge to enter. See Bake Off Rules below for full details.

The Judges
Three judges will score each Bake Off entry on a scale of 1-10 on taste and appearance, with the highest composite score in each category being named the winner. The judges are:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Andre Averseng, the chef and owner of Paso Terra Seafood, spent 6 years as a pastry chef in France before coming to the US to work with the top chefs and taught at the top culinary schools in Los Angeles. He moved his successful restaurant to Paso Robles in 2003. He is an enthusiastic teacher and gives back to his community on a regular basis. In his “spare” time he does art and brews beer.

Brigit BinnsBrigit Binns is the author or co-author of twenty-eight cookbooks, 11 for Williams-Sonoma and editor of many more. After commuting between Paso Robles and New York State for a few years, Brigit now calls Paso her home full time. She recently published a cookbook called The New Wine Country: Recipes from California’s Central Coast, which celebrates all of the farmers, ranchers, winemakers and producers in Paso Robles and along the Central Coast.

Sarah Jester photoSarah Jester is the pastry chef at Artisan Restaurant at the corner of 12th and Pine Street. She has been cooking and baking professionally for 13 years and is a graduate of Chico State and Western Culinary Institute. She began her career at Artisan as a line cook, proved her mettle and has been the on-site pastry chef there for 2.5 years. She enjoys long walks and hikes with her boyfriend of 11 years and their yellow lab. She bakes in her free time.

 Contest Rules for Pioneer Day Bake Off

  1. Contestants can be amateurs, professionals or youth under the age of 18.
  2. Contestants may have more than one entry, but can only win one (1) prize.
  3. Submissions must be home cooked (not store bought).
  4. Types of desserts that may be entered:
  5. Apple pie
  6. Cobbler
  7. Cupcakes
  8. Please do not submit anything that requires refrigeration.
  9. All submissions will become property of the 125th Anniversary committee.
  10. Contestants may work individually or with a team. (Prizes will be awarded to 1 member/team only, NOT each individual on a team.)

Contest Day:

  • Check-in is from 9:00am to 10:00am on Pioneer Day, October 11, 2014, in the City Park gazebo.
  • The Contest Representative is Jennifer Bravo.

The Scoring System:

  • Each contestant will be assigned a number for judging. Submissions will be judged on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest.
  • You will be judged on taste and appearance.
  • The Contest Representative will tally all of the ballots. The contestant with the highest score in each category will be the winner of each category.

Rules are subject to change

About the 125th Anniversary Celebration: 2014 marks the 125th Anniversary of Paso Robles incorporating as a city, and the community is celebrating the occasion all year with 125th anniversary-themed events of all types. For a complete list of events celebrating the 125th anniversary throughout 2014, go to


Campgrounds, Churches and Outhouses

by Harold Franklin

My father, Harold J. Franklin , was 14 when his family camped overnight in Resthaven, 3 miles west of Paso Robles up Adelaide Road. The springs in the canyon kept the swimming pool in Resthaven full the year round. It was November 1, 1926, and his father, Rev. Joseph Franklin, had been appointed by the bishop of this district to pastor the San Miguel Methodist Episcopal Church. He was also pastor of the Shandon and Estrella Methodist Episcopal Churches. They would live in San Miguel at the end of K Street in the purple parsonage still there across from Lillian Larson School.

Rev. Franklin was 54 years old and he suffered from a bad heart, the result of the 1918 flu epidemic. Not able to stand the cold, harsh winter weather of South Dakota any longer, the family had left Elk Point, South Dakota, in their 1923 Dodge Touring Car. They camped along the way with the running boards full of their camping equipment. Sixteen year old Howard drove the car to Long Beach where my grandmother, Ethel’s brother George Combs, was living with his family, working as a city fireman. Rev. Franklin attended the West Coast Methodist Episcopal Conference and had received the two year appointment to San Miguel. The family had camped the night before at Gaviota. The next night they were in the church’s parsonage in San Miguel. The three boys, Howard, Harold and Wesley and little sister Lois were told by their next door neighbors, the Wilmer’s, Dr. Wilmer’s parents, to pick almonds from the orchard across the street as they were not knocked that year. That was a new experience for them. That orchard became Almond Acres. Mr. Wilmer was in charge of the San Miguel Southern Pacific Railroad Station.

Motels did not exist in those days. Folks camped or stayed in hotels, if available. The first motel in the United States was the Motel Inn at the very north end of San Luis Obispo started in the 1930’s.

Paso Robles had several campgrounds when my father arrived. As one entered the south end of town, there was a large campground on the right where the present Post Office, Wells Fargo
Bank and other businesses are located. Behind them was the Pittsburg Pirates Spring Training Field and the tall city natural gas tank. In the 1940’s to 1970’s it was the large Stowe’s Trailer Court with the Masonic Hall building beside 4th Street.

Across Spring Street from the Robobank and Melody Ranch Motel was a nearly 2 block campgrounds bordered by Spring and Park Streets. The city plunge was on the southeast corner of 10th and Spring Street facing east. On its south was a small motel. The plunge faced east and was the delight of us kids from the 1940’s to 1960’s. Bob Osman was the lifeguard after WW II. Polar Freeze was along Spring Street near 8th Street in the 1950’s to 1970’s.

Flamson Middle School was originally the Paso Robles HIgh School.  A heated election in1924 between San Miguel and Paso Robles ended with the high school being built in Paso Robles. A high school had been here from the early 1880’s on the south side in the present playground of Marie Bauer School. The new high school was built on the site of a large campground used especially by area farmers doing business in town. Taking a good part of a day to come to town by horse, they camped over night before returning home. In 1980 it became Flamson Middle School named after a long time former principal and schools superintendent, George Flamson.  The new Paso Robles High School was beside Niblick Road. He was superintendent in 1959 when I first became a fifth grade teacher. The First Mennonite Church was built on the northwest corner in 1904 when the 1882 Adelaide Methodist Episcopal Church by the Adelaide Cemetery was disassembled board by board and reassembled on the corner by the Estrella Mennonites. In 1924 the school district moved it cattycorner across Spring Street where it is located today.

My father attended 8th grade in San Miguel and entered Paso Robles High School in September of 1927.  Some of the San Miguel students, including Mr. Range, tried to pants my father at school. Howard came to his rescue, a small but absolutely fearless fighter. The Franklin boys had changed schools every two years so they were very excellent defenders of themselves.

 When Wesley was in Paso High School in 1834, a group of students were standing by the front door one morning when English teacher, Miss Easterling was walking inside. The elastic band on her bloomers broke just then and her panties fell out of her dress to the ground around her ankles. She calmly stepped out of them, picked them up and walked on in. I was afraid to ask Easterburg about it when I had her exactly 20 years later as a Sophomore student..

In the 1960’s I was sitting on a desk in front reading to my class after coming in from lunch recess to calm them down for the afternoon’s work. After a while a girl raised her hand and told me my pants were split! I looked down and to my absolute horror, I was split open from my belt in back to the zipper. At least I had good briefs on. I wrapped my coat around my slacks and my wife brought me in a change of pants after I called her. But I still played hard with my students, in slacks and tie.

When Mr. Speck hired me in August of 1959, he told me I was expected to dress every day in a shirt and tie with slacks. We teachers were professional and we were to dress professionally. I did that for 38 years. He also told me I had to make my own paddle for classroom management. A student was not to be sent to Mr. Butler, the Georgia Brown School Principal, unless it was something really awful. Today that paddle is in the Pioneer Museum School House hanging by the blackboard as usual.

Today we have lovely motels and inns. And no outhouses.

Murder and Farming in Paso Robles

by Harold Franklin

The big news of 1915 for our area was the trial of Charlie Reynolds. It seems rough Charlie had left his farm and family on the north side of Creston and South El Pomar Roads. In the fall of 1914 he had spent a month or two fooling around with the wife of William Jardine over on Jardine Road, one of the two farming Jardines living along that road. They had come to that area by 1890. But then Charlie returned to his family and wife and put in his crop.

According to the local newspaper accounts, the two men had had some hard times with each other, including Charlie’s bunkhouse being blown up with him inside. Charlie was out harvesting on his farm in the summer of 1915. Jardine came riding into the farm’s yard on his horse, blood in his eye and his gun loaded. He set out to find the combine with his arch enemy. The header tender yelled to Charlie that Jardine was coming. Reynolds had his gun with him.

Old Paso over riverShots rang out in the field and Jardine lay dead. The jury ruled the shooting was justified and acquitted Charlie Reynolds of the murder. Enough said!  Some time later Reynolds lost the farm in debts. Jim Wilshusen bought the farm and farmed it until the 1980’s. Today the Roots live in Reynold’s house and 40 acres of the original farm of  800 or more acres.

Charlie moved near Paso Robles living several blocks west of the present Centennial Park in the farm’s house and barns on what is called Red Cloud Street. Charlie farmed all the land along the Airport Road, now Creston Road, and Niblick Road, then an un-named dirt track. It was the 1930’s and on the west side Coates had 20 acres or so, Lyell had his house and barn and sheds alongside South River Road with his alfalfa field across the road down to the river, now Albertson’s lot. There was no electrical substation. Capitol Hill Drive was off what is now Creston Road with the deep gully and canyon separating Coates property from the Capital Hill Drive and running up behind the Trinity Lutheran Church with its trails, once a deer route to the river. Tom Cropper had his house and property across the road from Bryans Beef slaughter house west across the road next to the river.

Charlie Reynolds farmed barley until the late 1950’s. Charlie also farmed the 241 acre E.C. Livingstone property on the east side of Spanish Lakes. Livingstone was the Allis Chalmers tractor dealer for many years in the metal building beside the railroad tracks at 13th Street; Cuendett’s blacksmith shop was across the street with the Lundbeck Brothers Blacksmith Shop on the south side, the original site of the first elementary school in Paso Robles in the 1870’s. The Pioneer Museum’s front façade is a copy of Lundbeck Brothers shop. Paso Robles High School vineyard is on part of that Livingston property. Harold and Wesley Franklin bought the property in 1947 and owned it until the 1990’s.

Different folks began buying parts of the farm in the late 1940’s including Paul Borkey along now Niblick Road.  Paul also bought what is now the Golf Club land from Mrs. Sharon about the same time. Mrs. Sharon’s house was back a quarter mile just north across the Shack Creek springs from Creston Village. She gave me a ride in her buggy about 1940. Clarence Wakeman bought the 200 or so acres from Borkey in the late 1950’s and the Schwartz brothers bought it in the early 1960’s and developed the Paso Robles Golf and Country Club. Jeff Nickerson bought the part of the Reynolds farm including the house and buildings about 1960. Trigo Lane was the first part developed about 1961 of the whole tract

With the building of the Golf Course, the dirt road was named Niblick Road and paved. One house on the road was Bill and Anna Cuindette Brown’s house about where  the School’s Administration Parking lot is now built.

Today Charlie Reynolds place is five schools, five churches, Centennial Park and hundreds of houses. The old olive orchard was located at the high school playing fields. Lyell’s house and barn are gone along with Tom Cropper’s house. In 1948 Tom Cropper used his CAT D7 and a carryall to realign Creston Road from South El Pomar all the way to Sherwood Acres and Niblick Road.  The road was renamed Creston Road from the Salinas River bridge to the original Creston Road past the big bend at Charolais Road. Tom was killed when his D7 rolled over on him when clearing land on the Erickson place past Creston a couple years later. Maurice Coates passed away two years ago and now his land is the last being developed into houses. Time marches on.

Harold Franklin