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2018 March PASO Magazine

The Story of Us. Together, we make great things happen.

By Lynne Schmitz Nearly

By Lynne Schmitz Nearly 100 years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, the Armistice ending World War I was signed. Oct. 4 of this year will be the 100th anniversary of the day Corporal Roberts, an Army tank driver for whom Camp Roberts is named, gave his life to save his crewmate when their tank overturned in a deep water trap during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Roberts pushed his gunner out but was unable to save himself. Harold W. Roberts was born on Oct. 14, 1895 in San Francisco. He was slight of stature, but filled with energy and enthusiasm and well-liked by everyone who met him. He graduated from Wilmerding School in San Francisco and enrolled in University of California Berkeley. In 1916 he left the university to enlist in the Army at Fort McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. Following boot camp, he was sent to the Philippines with the Cavalry. From there he was sent to Camp Fremont near Palo Alto, California and transferred to the Tank Corps. Roberts was next assigned to Company A, 344th Light Tank Battalion in France where he was soon promoted to Corporal. He and Sergeant Virgil Morgan were assigned a tank. Soon after, they engaged in the battle that cost him his life. For his valor he was recommended for a posthumous Medal of Honor by Battalion Commander Sereno Elmer Brett. Additionally, he was honored with the French Croix de Guerre with Palms, the French Military Medal and the Italian War Cross. Corporal Roberts is buried in the Meuse — Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France near where he died. His father, who received the medals in 1919, died in 1923. It is not known what happened to the medals after that. Then in April, 1945 a soldier transferring from California to Arkansas sold his car to a used car dealer. When the car was cleaned, Corporal Roberts’ Medal of Honor was discovered inside. The dealer reportedly turned it over to a local newspaper to send to the War Department but no records can be found. Curator of the Camp Roberts Historical Military Museum at Camp Roberts Gary McMaster is planning to visit Corporal Roberts’ grave in France in October. If anyone has information regarding the Medal of Honor, please contact the Museum Curator at 805- 238-8288, or by email at crmiltmus@ or The museum is open Thursdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Be sure to have correct personal ID and license and registration for your vehicle. PLEASANT VALLEY SCHOOL HOSTS 5K COLOR RUN Funds will refurbish athletic field and track Pleasant Valley School in rural San Miguel invites you to come out and support the fifth annual Color My Future 5K Run, on March 11, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. This year, parents and staff are raising funds for a much-needed refurbishment of the school athletic field and track area. The initial estimate for these improvements is over $5,000. The Run will begin at Pleasant Valley School, 2025 Ranchita Canyon Road in San Miguel, at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. The 5K course runs through the Record Family vineyard adjacent to the school. Participants will be running, skipping or walking on the school’s behalf. All members of our community are invited to participate. Registration is $30 for adults and $15 for children. Contact 805-467-3453 or visit 36 PASO Magazine, March 2018

FLASH HISTORY CENTRAL COAST TOM TAYLOR, COMPILER Publisher’s Note: Welcome to “Flash History” — a compilation of historical facts as discovered and organized by PASO Magazine contributor Tom Taylor. We love history around here, and hope you enjoy Tom Taylor’s Flash History column. For the inaugural submission, let’s take a trip with Tom down memory lane along the historic El Camino Real. Enjoy. Driving down the US 101 we have all seen the distinctive bells along the highway. Each bell is hung from a shepherd’s crook, also described as “Franciscan walking stick”. These bells, first placed in 1906 by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs and later upgraded with more bells in 2005, mark the route of the El Camino Real (The King’s Highway). In fact, originally, all roads were the “kings’ highways,” but this one helped link the presidios (military forts), pueblos (civil towns) and our 21 missions. It ran 600 miles from San Diego to Sonoma. The roads started out as footpaths when Spain began building the missions to parry the territorial ambitions of Russia and England. The exact routes were not fixed and changed over time due to weather and mode of travel. For instance, ships rather than the royal road usually transported goods and passengers over long distances. As for our North SLO County neighborhood, the Cuesta Canyon has always proved difficult. The Indian footpath that the Padres walked to go from Mission San Luis Obispo to the Asistencia Santa Margarita was inaccessible after a good rain. Leaving San Luis Obispo and nearing the summit, ROUND TOWN the canyon rose 580 feet, or 58 stories. The first stage over Cuesta was in 1855 — it was a two-horse stage. Later six- and eight-horse stages were used. It wasn’t until 1878 that the construction of Stagecoach Road, funded in the amount of $20,000 by the first bond issued in San Luis Obispo County, made traveling easier. The “new” road was carved into the side of the hills way above the Padre’s Trail and San Luis Obispo Creek making the grade easier for the freight wagons and stages. There was, however, still a good share of “run-away” accidents. Going north, you could now stop for lunch at the Waterfalls Saloon and stay for the night at the Eight-mile House just past the summit. State Route 2, as it was later known, was moved onto the easterly slope in 1915. The total cost was $58,771. It was said the plan looked like a bunch of “elbow macaroni.” State Route 2 was eventually paved with concrete and you can still see parts of it today. El Camino Real entered into the modern age in 1938, with a price tag of $945,000. The roadway finally reached two 21-foot wide lanes divided by a 4-foot parting strip. You could now reach the summit in less than a half hour. WOW. They named the new route the Cuesta Highway because it didn’t sound so daunting. Nobody ever used the new name. The names of the roadway in the Santa Lucias were; Indian Trail, Padre’s Trail, Stagecoach Road, Mountain Road, County Road One, Cuesta Pass, Cuesta Road, State Route 2, Cuesta Highway, State Route 101 and US 101. Other names are; Juan Batista de Anza National Historic Trail, Purple Heart Trail and Alex Madonna Memorial Highway. March 2018, PASO Magazine 37

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