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.

Continue reading


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

Old Paso: The Southern Pacific Milling Company

by Harold Franklin

TrainDepot 1890

The Southern Pacific depot circa in 1890. The original building still stands today and is currently the home of Anglim Winery.

Paso Robles was in the center of a huge grain growing area. It just needed an impetus to develop. This finally happened on October 31, 1886, when the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in  our town and the engineer blew a long, loud blast with his steam whistle that echoed and re-echoed through the hills and plains.

For eleven years the railroad had ended at Soledad. Then 1,500 Chinese laborers began laying track on the right-of-way behind the surveyors and grading personnel in the spring of 1886. The track ended at Crocker, now Templeton, for several years. Within a couple of days, railroad cars arrived loaded with redwood lumber and a crew to build a warehouse. The warehouse was a separate entity from the railroad, The Southern Pacific Milling Company. This company was set up quickly to get the farmers and ranchers wheat and wool. The company offered sacks, twine, insurance and all the necessities needed by the farmers moving into the area.

It was a monopoly. Offering higher prices than the ports of Cayucos, San Simeon and Port Harford, the prices were still low. The Blackburn Brothers and James had built a bridge across the Salinas River in 1887 and the Cliff Road, now South River Road, for the farmers. Along with all the necessary items needed for ranching and farming, soon a mill was set up to produce feed, as well as a planning mill for dressing the lumber offered by the company. They also offered all types of farming implements needed for working the soil.

The S.P. Milling Company warehouse was built directly east of the depot across the tracks. Special crews built the warehouse, the depots, and the 60,000 gallon water tanks required by the steam engines. The crew quickly set up in a few weeks the redwood warehouse that was 50 feet wide and over 660 feet long. The walls were 14 feet high with open rafters to the roof. Later the warehouse was extended to almost 1,000 feet long to handle all the business. The warehouse was 50 feet wide. Every 50 feet on the railroad side was a door through which boxcars could be unloaded and loaded.

On the Riverside Street side were doorways with side steps every 50 feet where the grain sacks were unloaded from the wagons and later years the trucks. These sidings were about 4 feet high so the hand trucks could be used to haul 5 sacks at a time into the warehouse. Wheat weighed about 140 pounds to a sack with barley about 120 pounds.  A hand truck with 5 sacks of wheat was about 700 pounds.

Continue reading

A Presidential Visit to Paso Robles

by Cliff Tucker

When the President or Past President of a country visits a small town, it is very big news. Paso Robles experienced that excitement in 1933 when one of the local citizens had the opportunity to shake the political leaders hand.

The 31-st President of the United States was sighted in Paso Robles

The 31-st President of the United States was sighted in Paso Robles

It all occurred at the Standard Oil Company service station  located at the southwest corner of Eighteenth and Spring Streets. In the early afternoon, a large black Packard automobile pulled up to the pump bay and stopped. The youthful service attendant “hot-footed”  it to the vehicle and greeted the elderly gentleman driver.

The attendant  received the man’s order to fill the gas tank with gasoline and check the oil. The serviceman did as asked and added washing the windows, wind shield,  head lights and checking the air pressure of the four tires, all the amenities of  “full service.” As the service was performed,  the attendant kept thinking he knew who the elderly driver was but he couldn’t recall.

Upon completing the requested service and receiving the expenses,  the two men shook hands and the attendant asked the distinguished gentleman, “Don’t I know you?” The  man replied that he had been the previous Thirty First President  of the United States, Herbert Hoover. The service attendant was to become a well known Paso Robles businessman and long time community leader, Johnny Jordan.

About the Author:

Cliff Tucker is an avid local historian, a proud Bearcat and the author of Paso Robles, 1930-50, When Highway 101 was Main Street of My Hometown. He is a regular contributor to our 125th Anniversary blog, you can sign up for the email newsletter here to get monthly updates on his remembrances of Paso past. 

Paso’s Past: Sweet Watermelons, Noogies and School Bus Adventures

This is first in a series of stories of Paso’s past from local storytellers willing to share their remembrances in honor of the 125th Anniversary. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent.

A lot of things have changed in the Paso Robles area in the past 125 years.  One living now would not imagine in their wildest dreams what it was like then. The term “good old days” definitely applies to these stories.

by Harold Franklin

Sweet Watermelons

Robert “Bud” Toevs was in FFA at Paso Robles High School in 1945.  He used the Agriculture Allis Chalmers wheel tractor that was hand cranked to plant hay on the open areas where  Spring Street Rabobank now stands.  On the back of the lot on a low hill was a tall two story house build and previously lived in by James Blackburn.  Now it was empty and there were several acres of ground between Spring Street, Highway 101, and the house. The city would get gravel from the bank of the hill alongside Spring Street. Bud also raised hay along Vine Street and 9th Street by his parent’s house on empty lots for his FFA project. The school had a mower and rake. Bud shocked the hay and then hauled it out to Alfred Heer’s farm in Pleasant Valley to feed a bull and heifer Bud was raising for his FFA project.

The agriculture teacher was Mr. Clive Remund.  Bud’s FFA friend, Bill Echols, lived out in Estrella past the one-room Pleasant Valley School.   Bill’s FFA project was  raising several Spotted Poland China pigs.  Bill collected the infertile turkey eggs from Black’s Hatchery just North of the present Adelaide Inn on 24th and 101 and fed the pigs the eggs.  You never saw such nice slick hogs.

One time Mr. Remund took the Ag students on a field trip out to Echol’s farm in 1945.  Mr. Remund was the bus driver.  He stopped the bus in a dip in the road and told the boys to climb through the fence and get some summer fallow watermelon growing in the field!  The farmer wouldn’t miss some sweet melons. Mr. Remund would rub a student’s head with his knuckles if they needed some reminder to act respectfully (nowadays, we call those “noogies”). FFA were all boys until the 1960’s when girls were also included in FFA.


Paso Robles High School in 1892

Bill Osman was the driver for the  Whitley Gardens route.  He was the 7th grade science teacher for many years.  About 1950 our bus stopped suddenly on Spring Street which was Highway 101 then. Bill was behind us in old Bus #4 and he stood on the air brake pedal to avoid hitting us.  But he finally  stopped as he bumped our bus.  No real damage was done but the kids all had a story to tell about the incident.

In 1959 Harold Franklin drove the Oak Flat bus while teaching fifth grade at Georgia Brown School, Bus #9.  In the mornings he also picked up the 12th and Pacific Drive kids.  It was hectic to get to class on time each morning.  His Principal, Bob Butler, would cover for him if he was late, which was not very often.  By 1963, the busses were driven by professional drivers.

Leland Sonne was the bus driver for the Creston area kids 1949-1951.  He drove bus his Junior and Senior years, parking the bus overnight at his house in Creston.  Students were good drivers and had no discipline problems.  If someone on the bus was a problem, he would stop and tell the kid to walk, regardless of age.

In 1933 to 1935, Wesley Franklin was a Senior at Paso Robles High School as well as taking a fifth year of advanced schooling. He lived alongside the Estrella River at the Wayne Hillman house owned by Andrew Iverson. He drove a Model A school bus. The kids would all try to sit in the back of the bus and it would raise the front wheels off the road.

About the Author:

I am Harold Franklin. I was born at home on Creston Road, June 12, 1937, the first 2nd generation baby of Dr. Wilmer who delivered my mother, Hilda Claassen, on May 18, 1915. I am the oldest of 6 children of farmer and rancher Harold and Hilda Franklin. I rode the bus 5 miles into Paso Robles where I attended grades 1-12. I attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara 1955 to 1959 and obtained my California Elementary Teaching Credential. Mr. Speck hired me to teach fifth grade at Georgia Brown School where I taught from 1959 to 1976. In the summertimes I harvested barley until 1998. I taught fifth and sixth grade at the then Pifer School, now Lewis Middle School, my 7th Grade teacher. In 1978 and 1979 I moved with my family to Huehuetenango, Guatemala, where I taught 6th Grade in English at the Huehue Boarding School. I then moved to the new Flamson Middle School in 1981 where I taught 6th and 8th Grade science for eighteen years. I retired in 1997. I work at the Pioneer Museum as well as my church.

I attended the Willow Creek Mennonite Church from my birth until first grade in 1943 when the activity of WW II in the area hindered our travel. I then attended First Baptist Church until 1956 when we started Grace Baptist Church on Creston Road. After teaching for one year and one month, I was drafted into the U.S. Army 25 October 1960 and served with Special Troops at Ft. Hood, Texas, in the Post Headquarters.

I returned to my fifth grade class in 1962 and on June 21, 1963, I married my wife, Karen Bergman, from Tulare, CA, a nurse. I have three children, Rebecca, Jonathan, and Sharon, 7 grandchildren and 4 great grand children that live in the area except for Becky, who lives in Spokane, Washington. My grandson Taylor is presently in Fort Richardson, Alaska, in the U. S. Army.