First published in REVEAL The Central Coast of CA Magazine http://www.simplyclearmarketing.com
“Come to Paso Robles to enjoy the wine and shopping then experience Paso as it used to be.”
Tom and Debby Harris find themselves extending this invitation often as they travel the USA. Harris Stage Lines is invited to special events and parades to haul grand marshals in their replica 1860s Concord Stage Coach built originally for Wells Fargo. Appropriately the Carmel Valley Centennial Committee invited them to “haul” the U.S. Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank in their celebration parade. Wells Fargo had the contract to deliver mail throughout the Old West. In 2014 during Paso Robles’ 125th Celebration year, the 1862 Coastal Route between Salinas and Los Angeles was relived hauling the mail from San Miguel to Paso Robles by horse-drawn coach. Monty Montana invited them to Texas for his wild west show with Jack Palance (City Slickers), Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger), and James Drury, (The Virginian) the guest passengers. Tom and Debby drove their team of horses hitched to the #20 Concord Stagecoach built for them by famed Texas specialty vehicle builder J. Brown in the 2016 Rose Parade. By appointment the public is invited to experience over 26 one-of-a-kind horse drawn vehicles at the Harris’ working horse ranch four miles from the heart of Paso Robles.
“We’re in the entertainment business – your horse riding, driving, party and event headquarters,” said Tom. Not only will they take their “nostalgia for the Old West” on the road, but Debby, Tom and their son Cactus spent 22 years creating the hospitality venue. “We purchased acreage with an 80-year-old house and built the rest. Every piece of farm equipment we display is operational. Our party facility is perfect for western themed special occasions, weddings or group barbecues.”
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to drive a buckboard with a single horse or a stagecoach with multiple horses? How is it possible to control a team of four or more horses? Debby and Tom were raised on ranches. They spent years participating in rodeos and won multiple awards for their showmanship, including Outstanding Display of Western Heritage and The Chairman’s Award for the Ft Worth, Texas Stock Show & Rodeo All Western Parade. They are respected worldwide for their horsemanship – and now love to share their expertise giving riding or driving lessons. “We also train farming with the horses,” said Tom. “We grow forage mix (oats, buckwheat & barley) and use a grain binder for haystacks that look like teepees.”
Tom explained tour buses driving through Paso Robles on Hwy. 101 will book an evening barbecue or locals have been known to surprise visitors with a picnic and tour after a day of wine tasting. Harris Stage Lines details their many visitor options for groups up to 200 guests at www.harrisstagelines.com. Check out the unforgettable birthday parties for children or adults hankering for an experience the way it was when horse power wasn’t under the hood.
Party headquarters includes amazing sounds from a 1922 Wurlitzer of the West 1000 Pipe Theater Organ in the Music Hall. A Pole Barn accommodates indoor and outdoor catered barbecues. Ride a horse or atop a stagecoach or book a throw-back surrey ride with the fringe on top. The “Real Horse Power Show” includes Belgium Draft horses either hitched or hitch-ready to unique vehicles that helped populate the American West.
The Harris family and Stephen Robertson Yergers partnered to create SRY Coaches, a unique horse-drawn vehicle collection and driving school. Each vehicle was chosen for the role it played in the American West. Used for filming commercials, special promotions, weddings, funerals and parades, Tom will also train entrepreneurs to operate an Amish Road Buggy, Ben Hur Racing Chariot, authentic BBQ Chuck Wagon, hay wagon — even a 1906 Hearse built by Johnson & Sons in NY, NY.
But there’s more! “I’ve learned the church organ and the theater organ are completely different,” said Tom describing the mammoth set-up that operates the Wurlitzer organ. Besides musical reviews, the theater organ was the sound depicting the action in silent movies. At age 90 Dr. Ruth Dresser saw Cactus Harris in concert and invited him to her home in San Francisco to play her 1922 Wurlitzer with 1000 pipes knowing he would treasure its value and unique sound. He purchased it, disassembled it, and reassembled it at the ranch. The sound is breathtaking, but seeing the garage-size room full of the equipment in action creates a heart-pounding appreciation for the music from days gone by. And if you are lucky Cactus will be home to create ivory magic, otherwise, Tom, with a gleam in his eye, will set the computerized music on play and recount stories about his son, the world-touring professional organist.
Call Harris Stage Lines at (805) 237-1860 and book a visit with Debby. She’ll be the first to tell you, “We love to create fun, western environment events!”