Cowboy Wine Country

The Salinas, Hot Springs, el Camino Real, Outlaw,

a Piano Player, Wine and the Pine Street Saloon

As story tells it and rumors has it ...the history of Paso Robles, sorta


By Buffalo Benford Standley




After two years on the road with Merle Haggard working with him on his documentary

and his work with me on my documentary on the Father of Country Music, I needed to

leave the road and hang with my kids in Paso Robles.  When I mentioned to Merle

that I was going to live in Paso back in 2006, he said, "Hey...What is the name of the

old Saloon there?"   I said, "Hmmmm,  Pine Street Saloon."   He said, "Yep that's

it...I remember it from my days traveling out of  Bakersfield and all musicians know

of the Mid-state Fair, which is famous of the weeks of big name acts.


Hag was always complaining that there are so few Saloons left, now's there only

theaters and big concert arenas.  He would say, "I'm a bar band and I am running

out of places to play."  Down the road I got Merle to cut a TV commercial for the

Pine Street Saloon.


On the Department of Parks and Recreation Historic Resources Inventory regarding

the Pine Street Saloon building it says, "This two story structure is one of the oldest

buildings in down town Paso."


Rumor has it that in the late 1800's saw a raw wild west section of town down Pine

Street,  where cattle men drove herds into town, where cowboys partook of refresh-

ments in one of the 15 saloons.  There were 3 banks in town during these times. 


On Pine Street, also known  as "skid row" every Saturday there were horse races

as entertainment for cattlemen, ranchers and town folks.  It is said that these were

going on during the days that Jesse and Frank James were hanging out in town,

unknown to most people...



Jesse and Frank James

taken in the mid 1870's



on the James Gang

With all the movies, dime novels, articles and books written about Jesse James and his now

famous James Gang from back in his day to now, have all created a great and legendary tale and

makes Jesse and Frank James two of the most famous outlaws in American history.  Jesse and

Frank's uncle Drury James, is one of the founders of Paso Robles, and bought into the town and

ended up owning the hot springs, in that he thought the town would make a great health resort.  The

story goes Drury  was passing through on  a cattle drive to sell cattle to the gold miners in San

Francisco and stopped off to rest and lay in the hot springs on Spring Street then known as the El

Camino Real, and was so amaze at how it healed him from his saddle sores that the idea begin to

develop in his mind.


It is said that Jesse James took shelter with his Uncle, who hid the outlaw under the alias “Scotty”

from the militia, sheriffs and bounty hunters at his Paso Robles hotel and his ranch where Jesse

and Frank worked as Vaqueros, and later on started hanging in the Pine Street Saloons...the time

recorded in a number of tales is in 1868 to 1869...


A number of stories tell of Jesse and Frank James coming to town to attend dances and horse races...

we can only assume and take the "dime novel liberty" to imagine that Frank and Jesse James did in

fact come into the bar at the present location of Pine Street if not for a beer or a shot of something a

little stronger, or even to frolic with one of the girls in the brothel upstairs, and substantiate the rumor

that they had come to this saloon that has been passed down for decades.  In 1885, Jesse is shot in

Nashville.  After a gun fight with the militia that had come to his mom's house he decided to head to

the West Coast to hide out.  Brother Frank James, his brother, took the train, and Jesse took a

steamer around the Horn from New York, because of his gun shot to the lungs the train or horse

back would have been too hard on the ailing outlaw.

His Uncle hid out the outlaw Jesse and his brother Frank, and story goes that Jesse came a few times a week to the hot springs from his

uncle's ranch, and healed his gunshot wound in the hot sulfur waters that had been healing springs for thousands of years to the Salinan

Indian Nation who lived near. Then came the Spanish and the Catholic Church and established Casa del Paso de Robles.  In 1813, after

running the Indians off, they built a shelter over the springs.


After a year or so in Paso Robles it is told that Jesse and Frank were getting a little wild around town, and there was some saying they

had figured out who Jesse was and because of Drury's status in the town no one did anything, but he thought best to get them out of town...

so he personally took them to San Francisco where he bought them both steamer tickets around Cape Horn to New York, before it was

discovered he was hiding the famous outlaw James brothers.


A number of articles on the saloon action on Pine Street during these late 1800s, which was the exact time that  Jesse James and his

brother Frank were hanging out in Paso Robles.  



Known as "skid row" but the reference is from the logging days when

logs were laid down to have horses to pull the logs along the logs to

move was prior called "skid road", where the road was a track

made of peeled logs half buried in the ground...the term was associated

with loggers, as you might have guessed, such that the part of town

called that was where the loggers would hang out and spend their free



Just down Pine Street at 840 11th and at the corner of 11th and Pine

was the Municipal Bath House and was a huge tourist and health attraction.  This is now a candy store, but if those wall could talk...


1244 Pine Street  in 1922 originally the Highway Hotel



800 Pine Street the Paso Railroad Depot was built in 1887,

after the 1886 arrival of the railroad to Paso Robles...


1202 Pine Street around 1890, The Bank Saloon was built

then in 1901, it became the Palm Saloon.


1236-38 Pine Street Campbell/Estrada Buildings known as

two of the oldest buildings in Paso Robles, and were ran as

a card room and a saloon.  In 1971 the Pine Street Saloon

took over the 1238 Pine Street Location


1238 Pine Street Louis C. Fortini Distributor of beer and spirits

in 1941at 1238 Pine Street and advertising John Wieland's Extra Pale Larger Beer


Back in 1930tys the Paso Robles Press was on the Northeast corner of 12th and Pine

Alexander Hotel at the northwest corner of 13th and Pine

Street.  Main door of hotel opened on Pine Street and

had a popular dining room. .


W.S. Lewis Hardware was at 13th and Pine Street in 1889

notice how similar the construction to the Pine St. Saloon

Corner of Pine and 12th Street, coach is loaded to head to the

Rail Road Station down Pine Street about four blocks...


PINE STREET and SKID ROW area Saloons

1901 Business Directory lists 15 Saloons in 1901

The Pine Street Saloon

Green Dragon Saloon built in 1887 between 12th & 13th where Crooked Kilt was located, later called Busis on Pine Street

Mr. Campbell's Saloon

The Plains Saloon

Ferdes - Rodeo

C & J's

Ray's Card Room Pine between 12 and 13th

Paso Pub on Pine between 12 and 13th

R.R. Saloon on Pine near the rail road station

The Welcome on 10th and Pine

The Exchange on 13th and Pine

Columbo Cafe and Coctail Lounge on Pine

The Alexander at 12 and Pine

The Mint Pine and 13th

The Cosmopolitan Pine between 12 and 13th

Franks Sparks Saloon Pine Street

The Lodge Pine and 13th

L Brenckel 12th near Pine

The Puck

The Bank 12 and Pine

The Palace

The Ideal

The Paso Hotel Bar

Plains Bar and Chuck Wagon Cafe 1930 on Pine



@ 1234 Pine Street

Have no doubt that on the short list of most

famous saloons West of the Atlantic Coast

the Saloon that resides in the oldest building

in downtown Paso Robes, aka Cowboy Wine

Country in Central California would be in the

running for any Famous Saloon Contest...

and it is haunted...

Pine Street Saloon


Stage coaches, wagon trains, cattle drives, medicine shows, hucksters,

health seekers, wine drinkers, miners, travelers, migrant farm workers,

Okies, snake doctors, carpet baggers, cowboys, travelers on the Camino

Real, people looking for the dream, and all coming to Paso Robles for the

healing hot springs...coming down ole Spring what is now 10th

and Spring to bath in the original Springs, that has now been covered with

a parking lot.


There were a number of drug stores and other stores selling waters,

tinctures, healing herbs, massages, and other healing related medicines

and services.  Fact is the town was built on the healing business centering

around the hot springs and the hot mud.


The coaches would come down 13th Street which was the Bakersfield

Highway and one of the early stops was the exact spot where Pine Street

Saloon is located now.



Corner of 13th and Pine in 1889.  Looking east down 13th Street is the

old highway that the stage coach and travelers from Fresno and Bakersfield

would travel into Paso from this road...and turn left on Pine to go to hotels

and straight down the street to the train station after it was built in 1886.

In 1889, the same year that Paso Robles incorporated as a city,

construction began on a magnificent new hotel. The hotel required

over one-million bricks and cost a princely $160,000. The new El

Paso de Robles Hotel opened for business in 1891.  Many of

the buildings from that time period were built of these bricks...




At 1031 Pine Street a house built by H.H. Soest, a chemist who studied the

mineral quality of the hot springs water in Paso Robles, and in fact would boil

the water in large vats and extract minerals that he bottled and sold to druggist. 

In 1953 was used as a physical therapy clinic...


Story tells that there were many potients, health related elixirs, homeopathic

remedies, parchments, snake doctor concoctions to cure one's ills in the drug

stores in town, and one can only imagine the medicine shows that came into

town traveling The Kings Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.


We can just imagine the medicine shows that might have stopped and where

the huckster sold his elixirs with a black face singer and some minstrel music.



800 Pine Street is the location for the railroad depot.

The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived  October 8, 1886 San Miguel

then on October 31, 1886 Paso Robles and on November 16,1886 it

went as far west as Templeton.  On April 20 1889 the railroad went

to Santa Margarita.  It was years later before made it over the grade

to San Luis Osbio, due to the cost to build that final distance.

1886 the Train comes to Paso Robles

Visitors could stay in touch with the rest of the world, as there were two daily mails, a Western

Union telegraph office, and a Wells Fargo agency with special rates for guests. As the springs became more and more a destination of the well-to-do as a place to go to socialize, the original purpose of the springs—to heal—became peripheral.

SPRING STREET led to the Springs...a historic trail and road, and highway

Spring Street at 3rd looking North toward the town in 1900

Spring Street was once a ancient trail that came up from

the ocean where Native Americans of the Salinas tribe had settled the area around North County and the Salinas River Valley for thousand and

thousands of years...later called:


Old Spanish Mission Trail

El Camino Real

The Royal Highway

The Kings Highway

California Mission Trail

Spring Street

The 101


The road actually follows part of the San Andreas Fault.

The trail was the main link between the San Francisco

Bay Area and Southern California. When the the S.P was

built in segments in the 1870's and 1880's it followed

the El Camino Real.


Pioneer Museum




Standing at 12 and Pine Street looking down 12th towards

Spring street in 1880tys


Mr. Make My Day seen on

Pine Street

Busis on Pine between 11th and 12th, which some

years back was the Crooked Kilt and back in the late

1800's was known as the Green Dragon Saloon...


When Benford Standley brought Clint Eastwood to

Paso Robles in 2008, we had our first event at the Paso Robles Inn.  Later I saw Clint walking alone toward the Kilt by himself along the park sidewalk.  I later heard that he had gone into the bar to have a beer.  That night he told me that he used to go there for a beer back in the days he was shooting Raw Hide near Paso Robles and hung out here in Paso on trips here to visit his friend James Brolin, who's married to Barbara Streisand, and dad to Josh Brolin,  who has returned to live in the area...

Clint Eastwood with rising country star Kacey

Musgraves, who sang at Pine Street Saloon on

her 2 visits to the Paso Digital Film Festival to

perform...the girl is a super star these days...

Brothels & Bordellos


Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, 

knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of ill fame, house of prostitution, and pleasure house. 










Research from and Thanks to:


Depart. of Parks & Recreation Historic Resources Inventory

El Paso Robles Area Historical Society

Many pictures above taken by Richard Bastian

Main Street Association

Pioneer Museum

Self Guided Walking Tour of Historic Buildings

Daniel Blackburn

Paso Robles Business Directory


Thanks for pictures, information and quotes, the information

is not used for any commercial purpose and is purely

educational and used under the Fair Use Act.










or They Paved Paradise

and Put Up a Parking Lot