Folsom Prison and Lake Tahoe

Hank – We said goodbye to Joanie and Eric this morning. Again, we’re very thankful and blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives. First we went to the Folsom State Prison Museum, which is located right at the gate to the prison. The building is far too small to accommodate all the artifacts and exhibits, but it’s a good place to visit nonetheless. The prison was hand built by prisoners who quarried the granite on site, cut the blocks to size, and then placed them.

Interesting bits of trivia:

The Last Supper painting in the chapel was painted in 1938 by an inmate. The thirteen faces on the painting are allegedly of murderers who were incarcerated in the prison at the time the painting was done.

Rick James (remember Super Freak?) spent three years in Folsom prison. The guitar he played while there is on display in the museum.

Johnny Cash recorded two albums in Folsom prison. When you listen to Folsom Prison Blues on the 1968 album the prisoners whooped and hollered when he sang the lyrics about killing a man just to watch him die. That was added in post production because the prisoners were careful not to do such a thing because they feared the guards would retaliate.

After checking out the museum we parked closer into town and pulled the bikes out. We rode the Johnny Cash Trail and connected to other paved trails for about an hour or so. We went to Folsom Lake and went around the prison along the American River canyon. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Wild turkeys were out. Peacocks were making a racket in a nearby neighborhood. And lots of people were out riding, walking, and running on the trails.

The Johnny Cash Trail is raising money to add art exhibits on the trail itself. 100 collectible California license plates stamped with JCASH50 are for sale, framed with a photo of Cash. They were made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cash’s recording at the prison in 1968. The plates, like all California plates, we’re made at Folsom Prison. The collectible can be had for only $2950. That’s too steep for me, especially since I would make a guitar out of the license plate.

Then we drove to Lake Tahoe just to spend the night there. We climbed and climbed on US Hwy 50. Once we started seeing snow it started getting deeper and deeper along the sides of the road. There’s been some serious snow removal going on over the winter. The mountains were absolutely gorgeous. And the lake is stunning. After checking into the hotel we walked to the lake where I was treated to snow on the beach for the first time in my life. We walked around town and found the California-Nevada border line. You can guess which side the Harrah’s casino is on. People in snow gear and carrying skis and snowboards were all over the place. There’s a gondola in the middle of town you can take up the mountainside and get to some of the ski slopes. We snagged some food at the deli in the grocery store and retired to our room for the night.

Kathy – Folsom State Prison is a pretty interesting place to visit. I was amazed at all the history of this place. The granite stone walls and gates that corridor off the prison are pretty spectacular too. Knowing everything was mined on site, and the stones were hand carved by the inmates with manual tools is amazing as well.

The museum had some cool stuff in it including lots of knives and guns that people tried to smuggle in. There were also many fabulous items on display that the prisoners made. Of course lots of information and pictures of Johnny Cash were there for viewing also. One tidbit of information that I didn’t know is Johnny Cash was never an inmate at Folsom State Prison. The mugshot of him there was for publicity purposes only. He did spend some time in a county jail in his younger years, but his time at Folsom State Prison was purely for entertaining the inmates.

It is interesting that the city of Folsom embraces the prison and Johnny Cash’s times there. Some towns with prisons in them try to keep the prison under wraps and don’t make it easily known. In Folsom the prison is literally in the main area of the town and it is kinda accepted as part of their history. Folsom really is a beautiful city with lots of walking, running and bike trails around. We saw a ton of people out exercising and enjoying life around the city. We really enjoyed our time there too, including a wonderful bike ride on the Johnny Cash Trail. It was 75 degrees and sunny, a perfect day to explore Folsom’s city, dam, and prison.

We then drove an hour and a half up into the mountains to South Lake Tahoe, California and Stateline, Nevada. I say this because the California/Nevada state boarder is right smack in the middle of the town. I have never been here, but it is just as spectacular as people have said it was. The pictures do not do it justice. We will be back to this place in the summertime to see more of it and to do some hiking. We were surprised to see so much snow still here in mid-March.

We are not skiers and did not have our snowshoes or winter clothing with us so no venturing out off the beaten path. We did walk about for a few hours and check out most of the town. It’s a pretty cool place and the lake and mountains surrounding it make it absolutely magnificent. We will be back. Another note, casinos were everywhere once you cross the street into Nevada but I didn’t go in any since we will be in Vegas in a few days. 🎰

After sightseeing in the town we decided to call it a day and relax in our hotel room for the evening. We started our day off with a bike ride in 75 degree temps and ended it in the snow packed mountains going for a nice long walk. I’d call it a good one.

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  1. I’ll bet that was a nest place to visit

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Cool photos
    Michael Conley, Photography, Cancer mentor, Bicycles newly diagnosed GBM checklist AA3-Brain Cancer Warrior, Vegan Activist read my story here Books that matter for cancer survival; Radical Remission by Kelly A Turner. Read a chapter a day. Available on disc. Great in the car on the way to see the SOC docs Surviving Terminal Cancer by Ben A Williams. READ FIRST Stop Feeding Your Cancer by John A Kelly

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