“Drive Near Paso Robles” Photograph c 1890 SOLD P954

From the turn of the last century, a vision of vanished California. A gorgeous print, large, handsomely framed, adorned with a brass plaque stating it is on the Southern Pacific route: a knockout. It most probably was produced to adorn a railroad station waiting room.

Price on request.

In 1886, after the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad, work began on laying out a town site, with the resort as the nucleus. Two weeks after the first train arrived on October 31, 1886, a three-day celebration was held including a special train from San Francisco bringing prospective buyers, who toured the area and enjoyed the daily barbecues. On November 17, the “Grand Auction” was held, resulting in the sale of 228 lots.

The local agent for the SPR when it arrived in Paso Robles was R. M. ‘Dick’ Shackelford, a Kentucky native who had come to California in 1853 to dig for gold. Shackelford had a varied career, going from gold mining to hauling freight by ox team, to lumbering, which took him to Nevada, where he served one term as a delegate in the state’s first legislature for Washoe County. By 1886 Shackelford had returned to California and was living in Paso Robles, where he began buying up extensive property, building warehouses and starting lumber yards along the railroad’s route. Shackelford also established the Southern Pacific Milling Company, which had a virtual monopoly on local milling until local farmers, in an effort to break Shackelford’s strangehold, themselves organized their own milling cooperative, the Farmers’ Alliance Flour Mill.

In 1889, the same year that Paso Robles incorporated as a city, construction began on a magnificent new hotel. The hotel required over one-million bricks and cost a princely $160,000. The new El Paso de Robles Hotel opened for business in 1891. The new hotel was three stories tall and built of solid masonry, set off by sandstone arches. This ensured the hotel was completely fireproof. The hotel also featured a seven acre (28,000 m²) garden and nine hole golf course. Inside there was a library, a beauty salon, a barber shop, and various billiard and lounging rooms. The new hotel also offered an improved hot springs plunge bath as well as 32 individual bath rooms. The 20 by 40-foot (12 m) plunge bath was considered one of the finest and most complete of its time in the United States.

On January 17, 1914, the world’s most well-known concert pianist and composer came to the hotel: Ignace Paderewski. After three weeks of treatments at the hotel’s mineral hot springs for his arthritis, he resumed his concert tour. He later returned to live at the hotel and bought two beautiful ranches just west of Paso Robles.