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Holiday gift idea: New book on pioneer heritage of Paso Robles 

Where the old west still hangs aroundWestern Horseman magazine ranks Paso Robles among the nation’s top ten small towns to honor their horse, cattle and cowboy heritage.

It has prompted Midwest author Robert Flood, a native Californian, to write a book on Paso Robles and the Central Coast: Where the Old West Still Hangs Around. “It surprises many folk,” the author says, “to learn that some of the largest cattle ranches in California lie half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles! Some in the Midwest think California is about all paved over.”

In thirty-seven easy-to-read chapters this book tells some of the region’s most fascinating stories—from the escapades of early outlaws Jesse James and the Dalton gang to the ranches established by Ignacio Paderewski, William Randolph Hearst, pioneer Hollywood movie director King Vidor, berry farm founder Walter Knott, late media mogul George Hearst, Jr., and William P. Clark, the rancher who helped bring down the Soviet Union.

The book also profiles Steinbeck Vineyards, the Work Family Guest Ranch, Parkfield’s V6 Ranch and the 72,500-acre Jack Ranch in the Cholame Valley, where the author spent his teenage years.

The author takes you on a stagecoach ride from Paso Robles to San Luis Obispo and back to the days when the town each year welcomed the Pittsburgh Pirates. In their years of spring training in Paso Robles, its population then only 2,500, they won the World Series and two pennants.

The book covers in brief the history of rodeo, pays tribute to cowgirls, describes the town’s early day grand hotel and journals the building of the railroad over Cuesta grade. It also profiles the legacy of educator Daniel E. Lewis and the career of local ferrier/ musician Monte Mills.

The author recalls his memories from Tex’s Barber Shop, the summer grain harvest and his six years in Parkfield’s one-room school, still operational.
The author makes clear he is neither a cattleman nor a cowboy. “We were surrounded by the culture,” he says, “but my folks and their ancestors were grain ranchers who had rented land from the Cholame Ranch for more than 60 years. “Instead of a horse I drove a Caterpillar D-6 tractor.”

The author’s early ancestors on both sides ventured west by sea, covered wagon and the transcontinental railroad. After arrival by covered wagon his great grandmother Louisa and her family lived alongside a Yokut Indian reservation in the San Joaquin for ten years, then migrated northwest into the Cholame Valley in 1869. Unwittingly they settled directly atop the San Andreas Fault, which was not identified downstate until after the San Francisco earthquake.

The author graduated from Paso Robles High School, where he edited The Bearcat, and from Cal Poly the year it admitted coeds, where he edited its campus newspaper, El Mustang. He commends Paso Robles “for a great job of preserving its pioneer heritage.” His book is timed with the town’s ongoing 125th anniversary celebration and is intended for both local residents and the tourist market.

Places to get the book

  • On the book’s website http://www.oldwestpasorobles.com/
  • Cuesta College Bookstore locations in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo or online at bookstore.cuesta.org, if shipping is needed
  • HammerSky tasting room, 7725 Vineyard Dr, Paso Robles, CA 93446, (805) 239-0930
  • Through the author, Robert Flood, at (219) 942-5197 or flood70@comcast.net
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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on , Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or follow his blog.

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