El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society
El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society


Paso Robles History Timeline

For thousands of years, the Salinan Indians inhabited the area that came to be known as Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County. As far back as 1795, Paso Robles had been spoken of and written about as “California’s Oldest Watering Place” due to the host sulphur springs that ran underground and the natural mud baths. It was this feature that initially invited people from all over the world to come to the Paso Robles area to enjoy their therapeutic values.

1542 San Luis Obispo County is first seen by explorers under the command of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portugese navigator sailing under the flag of Spain.

1769 Caspar de Portola of teh Spanish Army led the first land expedition to Alta California which then came under Spanish rule with Portola as governor.

1797 Mission San Miguel Archangel was founded by Father Junipero Serra’s successor, Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen. The Salinan Indians introduced the Friars to the medicinal properties of the hot mineral springs.

Both the Friars and the Indians referred to the area as the “Springs” or the “Hot Springs.”

1822 California came under Mexican rule.

1835 Missions were secularized & opened to private ownership.

1844 Manual Micheltorena, the mexican Governor of Alta California, granted six square leagues, or 25,993.18 acres, to Pedro Narvaez, establing the “Rancho El Paso de Robles.”

1845 Narvaez transferred title of the rancho to Petronillo Rios, a retired Mexican sergeant.

1857 Brothers Daniel D. and James H. Blackburn and Lazarus Godchaux purchased the El Paso de Robles Rancho from Petronillo Rios on August 2nd. Daniel Blackburn became the owner of the one league that became the town site. James Blackburn and Godchaux preferred the five leagues of open land
for raising cattle and sheep.

1859 Paso Robles was established as a voting precinct.

1864 The first bathhouse was built on what is now the corner of 10th & Spring Streets and a 14 room wooden hotel was built nearby.

1867 The first Post Office was established at Hot Springs in the hotel on June 14th.

1868 Drury James moved to Hot Springs and purchased half interest in the town site.

1870 The postmaster changed the name of the post office to El Paso de Robles or “pass of the oaks” to reflect name of the original land grant.

1877 The first school house was built on what is now 13th Street near the Salinas River Bridge.

1886 The first town site was laid out with the hotel resort as its nucleus.
The first train came to Paso Robles arriving on October 31st. Two weeks later a special train from San Francisco brought prospective buyers. On November 17th, the “Grand Auction” was held
resulting in the sale of 228 lots.

1887 The first bridge to the east was built by Paso Robles proprietors for the specific use of wheat farmers.
The first bank opened inside the city’s first store operated by Patsy Dunn, located on what is now the southwest corner of 12th and Spring Streets.
Dr. J.H. Glass became the town’s first doctor.
The first place of worship in the town site, Methodist Episcopal Church, was erected between 8th & 9th Streets and was later moved to Oak Street.

1889 Paso Robles was incorporated and construction began on the new Hotel El Paso de Robles.

1891 The first Grand Ball was held in the Hotel El Paso de Robles celebrating its grand opening.
Population of Paso Robles was 820 residents.

1892 The first High School in the county was built on the SE corner of 17th & Vine Streets.

1901 The first Free Reading Room & library was established in the Blackburn (Clock Tower) building at
12th & Park.

1906 The municipal bathhouse was built at the corner of 11th & Pine Streets.

1908 The Carnegie Library formally opened on June 19th.
A new steel bridge on 13th Street spanning the Salinas River was dedicated on September 21st.
It was later renamed “Robert Rader Bridge” in honor of a Paso Robles teacher who served during
WWII in the “Band of Brothers.”

1913 Paso Robles received its first electric power.

1914 Ignace Jan Paderewski, a Polish statesman, concert pianist and composer, purchased land west of
Paso Robles for orchards and vineyards, naming his ranch, Rancho San Ignacio. The next year he purchased land on Adelaida Road and established Rancho Santa Helena.

1920 Paso Robles became known as “Almond Capitol of the World,” with 25,000 acres of producing
almond trees.

1922 Farmers Alliance Building was constructed.

1931 The first Pioneer Day was held in October as a way for the business people to show their appreciation to the early pioneer families & ranchers who became the founding members of the community.

1934 The Pittsburgh Pirates arrived in Paso Robles for spring training.
The first city fair, San Luis Obispo County Fair, was held at the Recreational Park.

1940 The Hotel El Paso de Robles burns to the ground on December 12th.
Population of Paso Robles was 3,045.

1941 Camp Roberts opens & the population of Paso Robles grows significantly.

1943 Estrella Army Airfield is dedicated (current site of Paso Robles Airport).

1946 The San Luis Obispo County Fair opened in Paso Robles on September 13th, located on what is now
the parking lot of the Paso Robles Event Center.

1960 Population of Paso Robles: 6,800

1981 Paso Robles’ fair was renamed “California Mid State Fair.”

1989 Paso Robles celebrated its Centennial Anniversary.

1993 Population of Paso Robles: 21,000

1997 The Carnegie Library became the home of the Paso Robles Area Historical Society.

2003 San Simeon Earthquake with a magnitude 6.5 hit Paso Robles.

2011 The city of Paso Robles passed the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

2014 Paso Robles celebrated its 125th Anniversary of incorporation.
Population of Paso Robles: over 30,000