2010 Riverside Ave.
Paso Robles, CA

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

Contact Us


Hotel Facade 


The Museum's volunteer construction crews have
completed the finishing touches on a long-term project --
the facade of the grand hotel. The 1/3 size version of
the original building covers the back wall of the
museum. The original building, completed in 1891,
was touted as being equal to any of San Francisco's
finest, and this facade is also equal to the hotel's
reputation. The crew have been very meticulous about
every detail.

T-shirts, with a design of the hotel by local artist,
John Partridge, are available at the Museum.
The Museum's facade of the hotel is the main entrance
without the tower.



Hotel Facade


     Under the leadership of Dave Steaffens, the volunteer work crew has finished working on the facade for the famous old hotel -- Hotel El Paso de Robles, which spans across the back wall.

The Main Street project will include a number of vintage downtown businesses, including The Vogue.

The Vogue 

Rick Heim is putting finishing touches on the Acorn Tower.


Acorn Tower

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.

     The Museumís Big Wheel bicycle was 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, 2012, 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