The small town of Folsom, California has a very interesting and long history. The area was originally occupied by the Maidu Indians for thousands of years. They subsisted on small game, roots, berries, seeds, salmon and acorns. Unfortunately for them, they were pretty much decimated by the white man’s disease Malaria in 1833 and then again in 1847. The remaining Maidus fled because their hunting and foraging area were quickly disappearing, due to the encroachment of gold mining camps and the advancement of white settlers.
The first white man to discover Folsom, Jedediah Smith, was one of the most famous Mountain Men, as well as an European Explorer and Fur Trapper. He was well known for his bravery when a grizzly bear attacked him. Smith survived the attack, but was mauled very badly. He had a member of his fur trapping company sew his ear back on immediately after the attack. Sick with fever for days, he was finally brought back to life. Smith wore his hair long and straight to cover his deformity. He was described as a very tall and strong man. It was Jedediah Smith who found passage through the Sierra Mountains, which opened up entry into California for the onslaught of inspired Gold Hunters.
The 1848 Gold Rush began and led many white men to go west in search of their dreams. Gold was found on the banks of the American River, among other nearby sites, which runs through the town of Folsom. Before too long, mining camps were beginning to form in Folsom. One mining camp is now underwater in Folsom Lake.
Joseph Libby Folsom, a retired US Army Captain from the Mexican War, purchased 35,000 acres including Folsom in 1859. Folsom designed the town, Granite City, which he envisioned to be a hub for the newly coming Sacramento Valley Railroad, which made it’s first trip to Folsom (Granite City) in 1856. Unfortunately, Folsom had died of renal failure in 1855 and was not able to see his dreams and visions of the future come true. The town was eventually renamed Folsom in his honor.
From July 10, 1860 until July of 1861, Folsom was the last western stop for the Pony Express. Brave horseback riders brought mail from the east to the west in very perilous conditions. During the 1860’s, Folsom had the largest population of Chinese Americans.
What I have described here is a very brief history of Folsom. Sutter Street, the main road in Folsom is pictured here. Folsom has been lovingly restored and gives us all a fabulous glimpse of what towns of the wild west looked like in the 1800’s. I found it to be an exceptional western town, that was such an amazingly cool place to explore. Folsom Museum is filled with awesome remnants from the gold mining era. Sutter Street is quite exceptional, with wonderful antique shops, cafes, an ice cream store, a very cool Native American store and much more. To read more about Folsom, check out the Folsom Museum’s write up of Folsom’s history:
This photograph was shot with a Canon 40D, equipped with an 18-200mm lens on Sutter Street, Folsom, California, USA.