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Looking Back to 1955: $110,000 Farmers Alliance project nears completion 

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 the society’s Vice President Nancy Tweedie and Research Director Jan Cannon.

Excerpts from Sunday, January 2, 1955, Sunday Review

Grain loading storage, processing equipment installed in new 7-story structure

Workmen today were putting the “finishing touches” on a seven story structure at 10th and Riverside Avenues.

The new building and the grain handling machinery it contains—principal units of the $1100,000 expansion project launched last spring by the Farmers Alliance Business Association—will facilitate the loading, mixing and storage of bulk feeds and seed, according to Fred Steinle, general manager.

We handle about 20,000 tons of grain per year, plus a large volume of feed concentrates,” Steinle said yesterday. “Ranchers of the area need fast, efficient, and economical service and, with that volume of business, it requires a lot of equipment to keep pace with the demand.”

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Machinery

Being installed in the new “annex” are hammer mills capable of grinding any type of grain to any specified mill size, and a high-capacity feed mixer. Both machines are capable of processing about five or six tons of grain per hour, Steinle estimated.

Other basic units include a molasses mixer, turning out two tons per hour, and a four-ton-per-hour barley roller. The latter machine, after steaming the grain to the proper consistency, crushes and blows the feed sixty feet into the air and into a “sack-off” storage tank.

Revamped

In the building currently in use the seed cleaning department has been revamped, receiving bins relocated and a sixty-foot platform scale with a 100,000 pound capacity installed to facilitate processing, handling and weighing.

“The revamping will allow us to run day and night shifts,” Steinle said — “a factor that is especially important during the seed rush, from the middle of November to mid-January.”

The expansion program was financed in October of 1953 when the organization was granted authority to issue 2000 shares of stock with a par value of $50 per share.

Over-subscribed

“The issue was over-subscribed within a short time,” Steinle noted, “and it enabled us to start actual construction in April of the following year.”

“And we’ll be able to utilize our new equipment to the fullest extent. We’re serving well over 500 ranchers and farmers operating in this area and in addition to our storage, feed mixing, and seed service, we operate a grain brokerage business and stock brand-name feeds.

Open house

“We are planning an open house to mark the completion of the current expansion program,” he concluded, “just as soon as we know definitely when we will be able to put the new equipment into operation.”

Shetland pony boom spells success for Templetonian

A “phenomenal market” that has boomed little ponies into big business was discussed this week with undisguised relish, by R.D. Petersen, Templeton Shetland Pony breeder.

“Pete” Peterson started breeding Shetlands fifteen years ago “more as a hobby than as a business.” But the hobby grew and today Pete has turned over his Templeton general store to his wife, Mae, and devotes full time to the little horses.

“I had a Shetland when I was a kid,” Pete explained, “and I’ve always liked the breed. So, when my son was born, fifteen years ago, I bought one for him. Then I decided that we should have a four-pony hitch, and, after that it just sort got out of hand. “

Which was Pete’s modest way of admitting that, within a few short years he had built up a $100,000 business on a thirty-acre tract of irrigated land, one-half mile south of Templeton.

Opportunity

There’s a world of opportunity in this business for persons who really are interested in horses. Of course you’ve got to understand the animals and know something about their handling and care.”

“But since such a terrific demand has developed, we never worry about the market. Our main trouble now is that we breeders can’t produce enough colts to fill the orders.”

Pete, a member of the American Shetland Pony Club, is interested primarily in producing purebreds. He has 63 mares on the home pasture, maintains senior and junior studs and keeps 12 ponies in the barn lot where they are groomed daily for the six or seven show appearances they will make during the season.

Record sales

His record sale was made recently when a mare he put on the block at the Southwest Breeders Sale (held in Gainsville, Texas) brought $10,000. A stud he had owned several years ago was resold at the same sale for an all time high of $25,000. A quartet of colts, three owned by Petersen brought a bid of $15,000.


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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.

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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. 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.