Paso Robles, California

Infobox Settlement
official_name = El Paso de Robles
nickname = Paso Robles / 'Paso'
motto =

imagesize =
image_caption = Overlooking Paso Robles.‎

mapsize =
map_caption = Location of Paso Robles, California
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_name1 = California
subdivision_name2 = San Luis Obispo
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Frank Mecham
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 =
area_land_km2 = 51.56
area_water_km2 =
population_as_of = 2007
population_note =
population_total = 29,498
population_metro = 41,249
population_density_km2 =
timezone = PST
utc_offset = -8
timezone_DST = PDT
utc_offset_DST = -7
latd= |latm= |lats= |latNS=
longd= |longm= |longs= |longEW=
elevation_m = 242
postal_code_type = ZIP codes
postal_code = 93446
area_code = 805
website =
footnotes =

Paso Robles (full name: El Paso de Robles) is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California, United States. Paso Robles is the fastest growing city in San Luis Obispo County: Its population at the 2000 census was 24,297; by 2007 this number had risen to 29,297. It is estimated that by 2010 the population will be approximately 32,400, and that it will reach 44,000 by 2025. Located on the Salinas River north of San Luis Obispo, California, the city is known for its hot springs, its abundance of wineries and for playing host to the California Mid-State Fair. In English, the name means "Oak Pass" or "The Pass of the Oaks."


Paso Robles is located in a Californian chaparral environment, which is mainly dry grassland and oak woodland. In summer, the temperature commonly exceeds 100° F, while winters are usually cool and moist. During summer, there may be a temperature difference by as much as a convert|50|°F|°C|abbr=on between daytime highs and overnight lows.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.9 square miles (51.56km²), all of it land.


This area of the Central Coast known as the City of El Paso de Robles or Paso Robles and simply “Paso” to locals, has always been renowned for thermal springs. The Salinan Indians—the most historical inhabitants of the area—were here thousands of years even before the mission era. They knew this area as the “Springs” or the “Hot Springs.” The Indians, and later the Mission Fathers and their congregations, found relief from various ailments in the therapeutic waters and soothing mud baths.

The area was originally part of a 25,000 acre (101 km²) Spanish land grant that was purchased by James and Daniel Blackburn in 1857. The land was a rest-stop for travelers of the Camino Real trail, and was known for its mineral hot springs. In fact, Franciscan priests from neighboring Mission San Miguel constructed the first mineral baths in the area. During this period, Paso Robles began to attract the pioneer settlers who would become the founding members of the community. They would later establish cattle ranches, apple and almond orchards, dairy farms, and vineyards.

In 1864, the first El Paso de Robles Hotel was constructed and featured a hot mineral springs bath house.

James and Daniel Blackburn donated two blocks to the city for a public park to be used for the pleasure of its citizens and visitors. By original deed, the land was to revert to the donors if used for any other purpose than a public park. The grounds were laid out by a Mr. Redington and a planting day was held when each citizen set out his own donation. Originally, the whole park was hedged in by a fence of cactus, and in 1890 a bandstand was built with money raised by private theatricals.

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 17th, the “Grand Auction” was held, resulting in the sale of 228 lots.

The local agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad 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. [ [ A History of the State of Nevada, Thomas Wren, 1904] ] 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. [ [ San Luis Obispo Heritage] ] [ [ R.M. Shackelford, A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura, California, Mrs. Yda Addis Storke, 1891] ]

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 convert|40|ft|m|0|sing=on plunge bath was considered one of the finest and most complete of its time in the United States.

In 1913, the world's most well-known concert pianist and composer came to the hotel: Ignace Paderewski. After three months 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.

During the next 30 years, the hotel was visited by other notables: Boxing champion Jack Dempsey, President Theodore Roosevelt, Adela Rogers - St. John, Phoebe Apperson Hearst (the mother of William Randolph Hearst), actors Douglas Fairbanks, Boris Karloff, Bob Hope, and Clark Gable all stayed at the El Paso de Robles Hotel. And when Major League baseball teams used Paso Robles as a spring training home, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox stayed at the hotel and soaked in the mineral hot springs to sooth tired muscles.

For a time, Paso Robles was known as the “Almond City” because the local almond growers created the largest concentration of almond orchards in the world. The ranchers in the outlying areas were very important to the Paso Robles area. On these ranches were cattle and horses, grain crops (primarily wheat and barley), garden produce and fruit and nut orchards. Many of these ranch lands and orchards have become vineyards for the many wineries which currently draw tourists to the area. To show their appreciation to the ranchers, the business people established Pioneer Day in October 1931, which is still a huge annual celebration.

In December 1940, tragedy struck. A spectacular fire completely destroyed the "fire-proof" El Paso de Robles Hotel. Guests staying the night escaped unharmed. However, the night clerk who discovered the fire suffered a fatal heart attack immediately after sounding the alarm. Within months after the blaze, plans for a new hotel to be built on the site were drawn up. The design was an entirely new concept: A Garden Inn - Hotel, designed to accommodate motor vehicle travellers. By February 1942 construction was complete and the new [ Paso Robles Inn] opened for business.

Through the 1960s and 1970's, few changes occurred at the Paso Robles Inn. However, the City of Paso Robles experienced significant growth. The area's wine industry flourished, the California Mid-State Fair expanded into a regional attraction, local lakes, such as Lake Nacimiento, became family vacation destinations and Paso Robles' reputation as a charming and friendly community grew.

An earthquake, (San Simeon earthquake), struck several miles from Paso Robles on December 22, 2003, at 11:15 am PST. [] The quake registered 6.6 magnitude on the Richter Magnitude Scale, and caused two deaths when the roof slid off the clock tower building, a popular landmark. The dormant underground springs that had once been used for the spa were brought back to life by the quake, causing flooding and a sink hole in the parking lot of the city hall/library. As of January 2007, this sinkhole still requires pumping to move the water from the center of the city to the riverbed, where it is allowed to flow unimpeded. The sinkhole has also continually released sulfur gas since the earthquake, creating an odor that occasionally lingers over the area surrounding the hole.

Paso Robles has dedicated a new clock tower in memory of the two women who died. [] []


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 24,297 people, 8,556 households, and 6,040 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,401.6 people per square mile (541.3/km²). There were 8,791 housing units at an average density of 507.1/sq mi (195.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.70% White, 3.32% Black or African American, 1.30% Native American, 1.89% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 13.68% from other races, and 3.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 27.72% of the population. During the past 7 years, since the last census was completed in the year 2000, the city of Paso Robles has experienced phenomenal population growth, with an average annual population growth rate of 3.18%. As calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau and the State Department of Finance, the city limits population of Paso Robles as of early 2007 was 29,498, with a Greater Area population of 41,249.

There were 8,556 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.4% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 23.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.23.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 102.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,217, and the median income for a family was $44,322. Males had a median income of $35,514 versus $24,058 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,974. About 10.7% of families and 13.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.7% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.


In the state legislature Paso Robles is located in the 15th Senate District, represented by Republican Abel Maldonado, and in the 33rd Assembly District, represented by Republican Sam Blakeslee. Federally, Paso Robles is located in California's 22nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +16 [cite web | title = Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest? | publisher = Campaign Legal Center Blog | url= | accessdate = 2008-02-10] and is represented by Republican Kevin McCarthy.

Rail Transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, serves Paso Robles, operating its Coast Starlight daily in each direction between Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles.

Sustainable Building

Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo County are at the leading edge of sustainable building methods. Several companies in the area specialize in straw-bale construction, insulating concrete forms, rammed earth, and super insulated buildings. Within a convert|15|mi|km|0|sing=on radius of downtown Paso Robles there are no fewer than 12 straw bale homes, [ [ Paso Robles Straw Bale Home ] ] 6 insulated concrete homes, and several straw bale wineries/tasting rooms. [ [ Semmes & Co.: licensed contractors in San Luis Obispo, Southern Monterey and Northern Santa Barbara counties ] ]

Wind Farms

Situated in a pass with rather reliable winds from the West, Paso Robles hosts several wind farms which generate electric power with wind generators. See [ [ | Small Wind ] ] or [ [ Small Wind Graphic Library - Image Descriptions ] ] especially. []

Wine and Vineyards

The Paso Robles Wine Country is one of the fastest growing premium vineyard and winery regions in California, with the number of bonded wineries and vineyard area in Paso Robles more than doubling between 1993 and 2002. It is the location of the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area. More than 25 different varieties of grapes are grown in the Paso Robles Wine Country and there are over 170 wineries.

Paso Robles grape growers, wineries and wine tasting rooms united to form the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in 1993. This non-profit trade organization is dedicated to the promotion and education of the Paso Robles premium wine country.

Festivals and Events

Every year in March, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance hosts the Zinfandel Festival, during which Central Coast Zinfandel producers and enthusiasts from around the globe come together for an evening of wine, food and celebration of California's heritage varietal.

In addition, each year in May, the Paso Robles Wine Festival is held. The festival attracts visitors from all over the state, and features wines form nearly all of the local wineries as well as local cuisine.

The third weekend in October hosts the Wine Country Alliance's Harvest Wine Weekend. More than 150 individual events are expected to be held at this years festival, with participating wineries numbering over 130. Live music, local cuisine, barrel samples, and grape stomps are a few of the events to be had over this three-day festival.

Also, this year [ Cinema e Vino Paradiso] will be bringing a series of evening events of wine tasting, dinner and a classic film all under the stars at selected Central Coast Wineries. These wineries include [ CASS] , [ Villicana] , [ Rio Seco] and [ Maloy O'Neill] .

Famous Residents

* Haldon Chase is famous for being one of the Denver boys, pseudonym Chad King, in Jack Kerouac's classic novel "On The Road" (references in On the Road)
* Elena Verdugo, born April 25, 1925, in Paso Robles, California, has a star on Hollywood's walk of fame.
* Hampton John "Hamp" Pool (March 11, 1915 - May 26, 2000) was a football player, coach and scout who was part of two National Football League championship teams during his playing career and served as head coach for three professional teams.
* Hal Rhyne (1899-1971), shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1926-1927), Boston Red Sox (1929-1932) and Chicago White Sox (1933), and just one of only two major leaguers to have been born in Paso Robles, California.
* Jason Botts, born July 26, 1980, in Paso Robles, California, is a Designated Hitter and outfielder for the Texas Rangers.
* Robert Rader, member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, Easy Company, during World War II, better known as the "Band of Brothers". Was a teacher and coach in the Paso Robles School System. The 13th Street bridge was dedicated to him.
*Justin Wilczynski of the band Bonnie Dune, who also costarred on MTV's show, Kaya.
*Jake Zemke, Professional Motorcycle Racer
*Hobart Johnstone Whitley, Land Developer, Banker

See also

* [] "Paso Robles: An American Terroir," by T.J. Rice, Ph.D. and T.G. Cervellone, C.W.E.
* California wine
* [ City of Paso Robles]
* [ Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce]
* [ Paso Robles History and Commentary]
* [ Paso Robles Grape Growers (IGGPRA)]
* [ Paso Robles Wineries]
* [ Wine Country Event]
* [ List of free wine tastings in Paso Robles, ca]

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