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Looking Back to 1936: Week of rain washes away fear of drought, river at high point 

Looking Back Paso Robles

This look back at Paso Robles history comes from local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. News for this column is selected with the assistance of Research Director Jan Cannon. Newspaper photography by GiGi Green.

Excerpts from the Saturday, February 15, 1936, Paso Robles Times

Flooding downtown streets and gutters during its heaviest periods, causing considerable run-offs in nearby mountain canyons, and marooning temporarily at least, many ranchers in the surrounding rural areas, a blustering rain fell throughout this district during the week.

The downpour, which measures more than 3.66 inches for the storm, which began Monday morning, has reduced the danger of drought which has been confronting northern San Luis Obispo county this season. Prior to this week, the 1936 season had been one of only 15 “dry” winters in 67 years during which weather has been reported here.

More rain forecast

The week’s storm in Paso Robles, according to the rain gauge at the S.P. Milling Co., was 3.66 inches; season’s total there was 10.54 inches. The readings Thursday morning were: 1.14, Friday, .04 and this morning .50. The barometer, which fell steadily Friday, has ceased to drop, and showed a tendency to climb by mid-morning today. A heavy storm, centered about 400 miles west, is expected to hit here by tonight and Sunday, however.

M.B. Ayars in the Adelaida section, reported a total of 5.66 inches of rainfall for the storm. At El Pomar, W.L. Reber reports a week’s fall of 2.86 inches, with a season total of 9.86 inches.

Paso Robles storm history

Click here to read the full front page.

Shandon rains light

The Union Pump Station at Shandon recorded a storm of 1.78 since Monday, with the heaviest fall measured Thursday and Saturday mornings. The season’s total there was reported as 5.51 inches. Creston received more moisture, the pump station there reporting 2.20 inches for the storm, 1.18 inches which fell during the 24 hours prior to 7 a.m. Thursday.

Although heavy damage was reported as 5.51 inches. Creston received more moisture, the pump station there reporting 2.20 inches before the storm, 1.18 inches of which fell during the 24 hours prior to 7 a.m. Thursday.

Although heavy damage was reported in other parts of the state, where the rains were accompanied by stiff winds, there was little or no damage resulting from the storm here. The heaviest showers were usually of but very short duration, and a greater part of the fall occurred in the form of fine mist, which fell almost uninterruptedly on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday’s showers were light, and few, and it looked as though the storm had passed, until Friday again, when precipitation recommenced in earnest.

 River high

The Salinas river reached flood stage Thursday by noon, when it filled its banks. This morning, while rising slowly, it was nevertheless apparent that barring a cloudburst, or similar unusually heavy fall of water, the river would not overflow; or otherwise threaten damage to the community.

While grain farmers throughout the area gave a hearty welcome to the storm and were busying themselves with seed buying, repairs to equipment and plans for a rushed season, orchardists on the other hand, were hoping for at least a week’s respite from the wet weather.

Almonds threatened

Most of the almond orchards in the vicinity have already bloomed and too much rain will wash all pollen from the blossoms before they can be properly scattered, it was declared. There is also danger of a heavy freeze after rains, orchardists say.

A $25,000 WPA project, which was to have been started Monday, for the replacement of water mains in the city, had to be postponed indefinitely, as did a project for oiling city streets. The run-off has washed much sand and gravel down onto the highway, and into hard-surfaced streets. In several places, ravines have been cut into unpaved sections of streets by the rain.

Read previous Looking Back articles

Thank you to the sponsors of Looking Back

Paso Robles Pioneer Museum – Come take a real look back into local Paso Robles history. Open Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 2010 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446, (805) 239-4556.

Estrella Warbird Museum is an aviation museum dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, vehicles, and memorabilia. Woodland Auto Display is also open. Hours: Thursday through Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. 4251 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446,, (805) 227-0440.

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1800 El Pomar is the site of a historic Templeton ranch located just three miles east of town. The property features an iconic, aged redwood barn, 3-story tank house, original farmhouse with an outdoor garden, original water tank structures, and many other original ranch buildings. Set on 20+ acres of vineyards, the 360-degree views of rolling oak-studded hills and surrounding vines are a photographer’s dream. A prime ceremony location exists in the vineyards behind the barn between two beautiful oaks. The northwest-facing location creates plenty of shade for your guests in an early to late afternoon setting. A perfect venue with plenty of open space to customize your wedding or event.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.