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Looking Back to 1939: Local man rides Nacimiento River rapids 

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 Wednesday, March 15, 1939, Paso Robles Journal

Walt Bonnheim rides the rapids on the Nacimiento

At last, it has happened! For years now we have heard Walt Bonnheim talk about how anxious he was to try going down the Nacimiento River in a canoe. It all came about Saturday afternoon and Walt’s account of it is more interesting than any fish story we have heard in some time.

Mr. Bonnheim took off in his canoe about 12 miles north of his Las Tablas ranch at 3 o’clock and after going six miles landed. The Kayak is manned by one oar. The river was deeper than ordinary due to the recent heavy rains in the Adelaide district. After sailing a short distance, he met with many turns in the river and suddenly got into falls and high waves. The swift current took the Kayak out of control since it is a light structure, only 15 feet long. He started rushing down the rapids backward until he finally hit shallow water and managed to regain control. The Grand Canyon has nothing compared to Walt’s experiences here, to hear him tell it. The river is narrow and winding and requires an alert and skilled canoer to manage such a craft. But, Walt did it!

The Kayak was built by Walter Jr., two years ago. It is made of canvas and painted white and red. There is room enough for three people to ride in it. The vessel does not impress one as being particularly seaworthy, which makes us admire Walter for his audacity. The Kayak was punctured during the journey, but fortunately, it happened shortly before the landing.

Walt said he didn’t see any fish in the river (perhaps had no time to look for them) but there were lots of ducks in evidence.

How about a ride next time?

Paso Robles history 1939

Click here to read the full front page.

Community Chamber of Commerce holds first meeting

A good representation was present Monday evening at the first official meeting of the Paso Robles Community Chamber of Commerce in the Rotary Club room. Art Trussler, president, was in charge of the meeting. M.J. Hoon read the minutes of the last meeting, which was held about six weeks ago.

Immediately the meeting got underway with reports of committee members on the various subjects outlined by them from their recent questionnaire.

Nothing definite had been started in the way of publicity for out hot springs.

County Roads

Henry Twisselmann, county supervisor, and Hal Johnson, district engineer explained the road situation and possibilities of further improvements.

Mr. Twisselmann said that during the late flood, 42 bridges were demolished. First consideration was given to roads where stage and bus lines operate. However, almost all of the bridges have now been replaced. The state engineering department survey which determines the condition of the roads, condemned 29 bridges. Most of these have been rebuilt. We furnish the steel, the labor and the trucks for these projects. He also went into detail in explanation to how the county roads were financed.

Mr. Johnson recently attended the Road Builders’ Convention and pointed out the fact that the state highways are in first-class condition. He said, however, that this maintenance requires more taxation than the people here can stand. He said: “If you want higher standards it means higher taxes.” He explained the reason our roads were somewhat neglected, stating it was because our taxes had been spent on replacing the washed-out bridges. Outside help, however, was given in the bridge construction work. Labor by the WPA was also provided. He stated that our bridges were being constructed at about one-third the cost that the state could construct them for. When outside help is given by the state there is a limited time requirement.

Johnson showed that we are maintaining our roads cheaper than we could since we spend about $100 per mile, and the state $650 per mile.

Click here to read the article on the front page. The article continues on Page 6.


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, www.pasoroblespioneermuseum.org (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, ewarbirds.org, (805) 227-0440.

Creative Concrete & Design delivers the highest level of professional concrete work. Operating in San Luis Obispo County since 2002, Karl Rush brings 35 years of concrete experience to every job and will ensure that you receive the very best quality work. Over the years they have completed a great many works on residential homes. They are very creative and willing to explore options for your next project. Concrete projects have many factors to consider to bring your vision to life. creativeconcreteanddesign.com, (805) 896-1384.

Golden Anchor Financial Services is committed to helping you find the right mortgage product for your needs. They understand that every borrower is different, and offer a variety of products to meet individual requirements. They make the process of securing a mortgage simple and straightforward by offering you the latest in financial tools that enable you to make sound financial choices. Call them at (805) 473-7733 on the Central Coast or (559) 473-7733 in the Central Valley.

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. www.1800elpomar.com.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

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