2010 Riverside Ave.
Paso Robles, CA

Open Thurs. - Sun.
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
805 239-4556

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From Our Board President - October 2015

     Pioneer Day is always an exciting time at the Museum. It was the first field trip that I would take my kindergarten class on. It was a long, hot walk from Bauer Speck School, but one with great rewards. What a wonderful place to teach children about what life was like many years ago with real artifacts. Things I remember from my childhood, such as phonograph records, rotary telephones, and typewriters, are new objects to a five-year-old child. Over 500 school children tour the museum the week before Pioneer Day.

     This year, we have added a KIDS ZONE, where children can touch and play with many different items. There will be no "Do Not Touch" signs in this area. Children can dress up, type on a typewriter, dial a rotary phone or sit on a saddle. Bring your camera and enjoy watching your children or grandchildren explore.

      The California Barbed Wire Collectors Association will have a table to appraise and answer any questions you might have about old barbwire. The Association is in the process of helping us update the Swift Jewell barbwire collection. Roy Marzorini, a member of the volunteer construction crew, has built new display frames. the wire will be remounted and relabeled. Many of the frames have been built and details are being worked on.

     We are continuing to look for the new ideas, new people to help and new ways for the Museum to grow. Thank you for your support. The Museum is a place this community can be proud of.

    ~ Bonnie Nelson ~


Grand Opening of the Agriculture Exhibit
and the Jack Ranch Display

     The one room that housed an almond processor has
been doubled in size to showcase other aspects of local agriculture. Many volunteers have donated countless  hours to this project. Come and check it out.

     An exhibit, The Jack Ranch: History Doesn't Stop,
courtesy of the History Center of San Luis Obispo County will be in place through the end of October. This exhibit is a cooperative effort of several groups. Included are six large panels of pictures, documentation, as well as Howard Jack's saddle, which is part of the Pioneer Museum's collection.

Hotel Facade


     Under the leadership of Dave Steaffens, the volunteer work crew has been busy working on the facade for the famous old hotel -- Hotel El Paso de Robles, which will go across the Museum's back wall. They recently put the first phase of separate sections together on the floor to see how they fit -- and they fit perfectly. When the project is complete, it will be impressive.

Big Wheel Bicycle Debuts

 Vintage Smith Bicycle

The Big Wheel Bicycle was just unloaded at the Pioneer Museum by Gary Smith (left) and Chuck Desmond.

     Watch for the Museumís Big Wheel bicycle in the Pioneer Day parade!  It has just been returned to the Museum from the Bay Area where it was restored by a professional bicycle restorer. Our thanks to the Golden State Classic Car Club and many individuals, who provided funds for the project. The Big Wheel bicycle was also known as a "Penny Farthing," named after two British coinsóone large and one small in size. Plans are to put the bicycle on a trailer without a rideróthatís the safest way to show it off! With a rider perched high on the front wheel, over the center of gravity, quick stopping could pitch the rider headfirst over the handlebars.

     In 1888, at the age of 17, Clark Sherwood Smith left Creston for Oakland, California, where he worked for three years at a hardware/sporting goods/novelties store where he learned about guns, bicycles, and how to repair just about anything. After three years, Clark returned to Paso Robles on the Big Wheel bicycle, taking four days and losing thirty pounds along the way. 

     For about a year, he dealt in shotgun shells in store space provided in the Lewis and Hardie Hardware Store (wagons, buggies, carts, and implements), located at the northeast corner of 13th and Park Streets in Paso Robles.

     In 1893, after a short time in Cambria at his brother Fredís bicycle store, Clark returned to Paso and opened Smithís at 1225 Park Street where the business continued for nearly 100 years. Fred joined Clark in 1896, and the business was known as the Smith Brothers Cyclery and Bicycle Hospital where they rented and repaired bicycles. For years, the Big Wheel bicycle was mounted on the roof of their first store building.

Returning to the Museum: The Flying Machine

     This machine was built in Paso Robles, circa 1902, by Elmer T. Bollinger for William Henderson, who owned the first blacksmith shop in Paso Robles. The machine might have changed the course of history, but when the Wright Brothers made their historic 12-second flight in 1903, enthusiasm for this project was dampened. Bollingerís steam-powered machine was designed to be the propulsion system for some type of a flying machine. This scale model never flew.

     The 16 paddles were contra-rotating to create lift. Plans were to have a propeller at each endóone to push and one to pull.

     Later on (from 1935 to 1951), Bollinger became the Paso Robles postmaster, retiring reluctantly (due to regulations) at age 70. Bollinger also repaired clocks, until failing eyesight forced him to quit. He died in 1971, at 92 years of age.

      The Flying Machine was donated many years ago by Mrs. Bollinger. After 100+ years, it was needing restoration, a job that the Estrella Warbird Museum volunteered to do. Hours and hours of careful work was accomplished by Ron and Jackie Brooks (below), their daughter Ronda, and friend Jean Campbell.

Our grateful appreciation to all

Flying Machine


CAP Grant

     On June 4 and 5, the Museum Board spent two days with two professional assessors looking at the museumís collection of artifacts and the historic schoolhouse. This was made possible through a grant from the Conservation Assessment Program (CAP). The museum was allocated $7,190 for salaries and expenses for these professionals.

     John Griswold of the Griswold Conservation Associate gave us advice on care of the wide variety of artifacts at the museum. He evaluated the current collection care policies and appropriate improvements that could be made. He gave us valuable in-formation on how to take care of what we have. John also looked at how we can improve the metal buildings that house the museum. The museum will receive a written report that can be used for long and short planning.

     Peyton Hall of the Historic Resources Group spent two days doing the assessment on the Geneseo schoolhouse. He gave us recommendations on how to preserve the building, which was built in the 1880s. 

     The Pioneer Museum continues to grow and expand. Our goal is to make sure the artifacts are properly cared for so that in 50 years they will still be in good condition. With an all-volunteer staff being able to have two museum professionals work with us was a valuable asset.

~ Bonnie Nelson, Vice-president ~

We're On Facebook!

     The Pioneer Museum has progressed into the current era of social media, and is proud to announce that we now have a Facebook page! Facebook serves as a way to promote the museum through this popular source of online communication. On our Facebook page you can see pictures of the inside of the museum and museum grounds, as well as find out about current and upcoming Pioneer Museum events.

     You can easily go to the museum's Facebook page by logging on to your Facebook page and do a search for Paso Robles Pioneer Museum. If you don't have a Facebook page, you can "Google" the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum and find our Facebook link there. Once you are on our page, be sure to "like it," so we will know you visited our page.

~ Cheryl  Carnevali ~




The Geneseo Schoolhouse Dedication
October 8, 2005

     After the 2005 Pioneer Day parade,  the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum hosted its annual Open House. This tradition was started in 1975when the first building  was constructed on the Museum grounds. A large number of activities took place, including lots of hands-on things for kids to enjoy, like Buckaroo branding, roping and an archeological dig.

     At 2 p.m. the restored Geneseo Schoolhouse was dedicated. Please click on the picture to see some photos and commentary of this wonderful event.

Click here to see Dedication Ceremony and other Museum activities


Old Jerkline Team

Spotlight on Keith Tarwater

     The jerk-line team (above), a pencil drawing, by Keith Tarwater appears in the museumís 1998 publication, 
The Pioneer Pages.
  Keith, a native of San Luis Obispo County, has always been interested in drawing and painting.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Keith worked for the City of Paso Robles, beginning in the street department and ending up in the police department. He retired after 30+ years with the City. He volunteers as a docent at the museum, served on the board of directors and helps when and where needed.



     The Pioneer Museum has copies of the 32-page booklets, The Pioneer Pages, which were published from 1998 through 2002. They are available for $5 each (plus postage and handling).
      Each issue contains a variety of articles about Paso Robles area history, including agriculture, blacksmiths, bridges, churches, charcoal industry, outlaws, roads, and telephones.

For more information on The Pioneer Pages click on
 Gift Shop link.

  Geneseo School House Bohlin Silver Saddle  Vintage Buckboards Cletrac Tractor


The Old Geezer