Paso Robles


Historic Carnegie Library in the Paso Robles downtown plaza.


  • Local indigenous tribes visited the area thousands of years ago to enjoy the naturally occuring sulfur springs.
  • The area was first explored under the command of Juan Rodrigues Cabrilho (Cabrillo), a Portugues navigator sailing under the Spanish flag.
  • In 1769, Caspar de Portola led the first overland Spanish exploration of the the area.
  • The area was a rest-stop for travelers on the El Camino Real trail and, in fact, Francisan priests construcgted the first mineral bnaths in the area. Its mineral baths were first documented in 1795 so that the area became known as “California’s Oldest Water Place”. 
  • The area was called Springs or Hot Springs by padres and the indigenous people.
  • 1822 California came under Mexican rule
  • 1835 the missions were secularized, and a Mexican land grant of six square leagues, or 25,993 acres were granted to Pedro Narvaez, to establish the the Rancho Paso de Robles (translated as “The Pass of the Oaks”) Mexican land grant.
  • The title of the Rancho was passed to Petrmillo Rios, a retired Mexican sergeant.
  • The land grant, Rancho Paso de Robles, was purchased by James and Daniel Blackburn in 1857. Note: Their partner was Drury James, the uncle of the outlaw, Jesse James.
  • Daniel Blackburn took possession of the league that comprise the town. While James Blackburn and Godchaux preferred the five leagues surrounding the town, which was composed of inland plains, best suited for cattle ranching and hay farming.
  • The downtown public plaza was donated by the Blackburns for the purposes of a public park and was originally hedged in by a fence of cactus.
  • In 1864, the first  bathhouse was built. And in 18676, the first post office was placed in the hotel and was called Hot Springs. The name of the post office was later changed to Paso Robles to reflect the original land grant.
  • 1886, after the railroad arrived, the town site was established with the resort as the nucleus of the town. In November 17, a Grand [land] auction was held, that resulted in the sale of 228 lots.
  • I887, the first bridget was built over the Salinas Rivedr to enable wheat growers to bring their harvest to town. The first bank, first store, first doctor’s office and the first chruch were operned.
  • 1889, the city incorporated and a new, Victorian, Paso Robles Inn was built.
  • The town began to develope with the establishment of the first high school, first free reading room and library.
  • The municipal bathhouse was built in 1906.
  • In 1920, with the organization of the Almond Exchange, Paso Robles became known as the Almond Capital of the World.
  • In 1927, the original Highway 101 passed through Paso Robles on Spring Street.
  • In 1940, the Victorian-style Paso Robles Inn burned down and was rebuilt in the current California Mission Style, which stands today.
  • Highway 101 was re-routed in the Mid-1960s to its present location east of downtown just west of the Salinas River.

Today’s Community

  • Paso Robles is known as a tourist destination for its many attractions such as:
    • The Paso Robles AVA wineries
    • The annual Wine Festival
    • Its naturally occurring geothermal hot springs,
    • The Mid-State Fair,
    • The annual Antique Car Show
    • And the well preserved and thriving downtown plaza and downtown shops, art galleries, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms.

Books and References

Anderson, Burton. The Salinas Valley: A History of America’s Salad Bowl. Monterey County Historical Society. 2000.

El Paso de Rolbes Area Historical Society.

Historic 101. The New Home of Don Wilson’s Highway 101 Project.

Wikipedia. Paso Robles, California.