Folsom, California

Welcome to Folsom, California, 95630

Alexis Wilke, Realtor®, lived in Folsom for one year in 2003/2004. He was in the Prairie City area, next to the Intel Corporation offices located in the area. He had a direct access to the highway at the Prairie City Exit on Highway 50. Folsom spreads on the entire North-East corner of the County of Sacramento. It has a lake and a prison that are quite famous. Folsom has many high end Luxury Real Estate opportunities with homes perched over the hills around Folsom Lake. It has also been expending quickly in the last few decades. There are may opportunities to buy new or nearly new homes in Folsom.

Nature & Folsom Zoo

Folsom has a large natural areas along the American River, Folsom Zoo, and Folsom Lake. The zoo is a sanctuary (only rescue animals are brought here) and it hosts free range chicken and peacocks.

A pair of Sumatran tigers laying in their cage (click to enlarge.)

The Folsom Zoo hosts animals that need a sanctuary. It is mainly native animals. Obviously, the two tigers are not exactly natives, although they were born and raised at a Californian farm that had about 20 such tigers. They were rescued from the farm, which was not taking good care of them.

Other species that can be seen at the Folsom Zoo that are originally from other countries are:

  • Two types of monkeys:
    • Macaques, found in Asia and Africa, and
    • Squirrel Monkeys, which are from Central and South America tropical forests.
  • Parrots (every where around hot areas,)
  • A large lizard: Skink from the Solomon Island.
  • A Ball Python from South Africa.
  • Macaws (South America)
  • Desert Tortoise Turtles, from the Majove and Sonoran deserts
  • Peakcocks (Blue: India/Sri Lanka—these are the ones found at the Folsom Zoo; Green: Java/Myanmar; and Smaller: Congo Rain Forests)
  • Hissing Cockroaches (Not too sure where those are… they come from Madagascar)
  • Zebu (Africa & South Asia)

Remember, many of these animals were actually pets that at some point became unwanted pets. It is a problem that many don’t consider when getting a baby animal. For many species, older animals can become cranky… difficult to live with.

Prairie Rattlesnake
A coiled up rattle snake. (Click to enlarge)

While I lived in Folsom it was the first time in my life that I saw a wild rattlesnake. Although I did not see it in Folsom, it is still an interesting sight. I don’t tend to get scared, even though I was there with my two sons who were about 2 and 4 at the time. Those snakes do not attack you unless they feel threaten so just don’t walk toward them or do abrupt movements. Just walk away or if they’re moving wait for them to move away.

Since then I had many more sightings and each time had absolutely no problems. One sighting was between the Twin Bridges and the Horsetail Falls. While climbing toward the falls we stopped at the creek in a  place with a small dam, so a lot of water. That was actually the home of a green rattlesnake. It was not upset to see us there. It swam and then wandered away on the dam. I was with my 7 years old who wanted to see the snake so I carried him around and stayed at a fair distance to show it to him. We left the creek quickly after that encounter. I did not think rattlesnakes would live that high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains since that area gets covered in snow in the winter. I guess they find crevasses and hibernate in one of those in the cold winter.

Note that although a bite can be deadly, even to an adult, they rarely kill humans now a day. Going to a hospital just after a bite is your best bet. If you have a choice of two or more hospitals, calling ahead is a good idea to make sure you pick the one with serum if one has such. This is what we use to clean the victims blood. If you are by yourself, call 911 as soon as you can. If you can, walk or even run until you are in a safe place like your car, although if not required, avoid exertion as it tend to increase the speed at which the venom circulates in your system.

A coiled up rattlesnake can jump at you at an amazing speed. Much faster than you can get away. To avoid a bite, staying further away from the snake is the best way to avoid a problem. Six feet (about 1.80 meters) is considered safe as the largest snakes can’t jump much further than four or five feet away from their location. Note that they don’t actually jump, they just strike. As far as you’re concerned, it is going to look like they jump at you, though. The difference is that their body acts like a spring and their tail remains on the ground when they strike. The snake is never completely off the ground.

Fun Fact: Cowboys would in part wear long strong pants such as jeans and leather boots to avoid snake bites. Their thin teeth can’t make it through leather.

A Pileated Woodpecker standing vertically on the trunk of a pin tree, pecking at the tree.
This Pileated Woodpecker is the second largest Woodpecker in Northern America. These are rare. You’re more likely to see an Acorn Woodpecker which also has a bit of red on the top of its head and has more white on its body.

When I lived next to Intel (Prairie City Area,) we were close to a park that hosted woodpeckers. You still had trees with many holes in them. Those were old trees that woodpeckers used to store nuts for a very long time. These birds come back to the same tree year after year. Once they die, the place is deserted for a while and other woodpeckers may come and replace them. It can take a while because these birds are very territorial and they tend to avoid each other’s territory.

When I moved to Orangevale, we had a Woodpecker living across the street. It was difficult to see it but we could hear it all the time. After a while, it stopped. No other Woodpecker replaced it so far.

The other wild life around Folsom includes badgers, skunks, hawks, eagles, coyotes, deer, cormorants, many seagulls, quails, and of course many squirrels.

Folsom Valley Railway

Just by the Folsom Zoo, the Folsom Valley Railway is a little steam powered train, that kids and adults alike love to ride. It includes a couple of loops and as you go on the back of the Zoo you can often see a Mountain Lion or a Bear.

The ride is just a few dollars and the driver is always very nice and always wears his train driver pants and cap. If you walk by you are very likely to hear it toot with its powerful steam whistle once in a while.

Note: it often closes on rainy days as not enough customers come by.

Businesses In Folsom

Folsom is pretty large and it includes several locations with quite many businesses.

One such location is right by Orangevale between Greenback and Madison. There is an Ace Hardware, a Round Table Pizza, Big Lots!, and of course a Starbucks. There is also a center with quite a few doctors, dentists, attorneys, CPAs, and other service companies.

Down Greenback, we find another business location right by the new bridge. There is a Sushi place and a McDonald among a few other businesses.

On the other side of the bridge, we find Old Folsom. Here too are many businesses, including many restaurants and a bike store (I know because I bike quite a bit.) The bike store offers bikes for rental if you come around to visit, you can rent a bike and go along the river bike lane. The bike lane starts in Folsom and goes all the way down to Old Sacramento (a good 2 hours ride at a good pace.)

Old Folsom is also the home to five museums: Folsom history, The Powerhouse, Pioneer Village, Folsom Prison, and The Train Museum. Folsom was the end of the line (and is again since it got the Gold Line built in 2003/2004) with a pretty large shop used to fix and store locomotives. The Pioneer Village also displays many old things used in the 1800’s to live and build things like chairs and tools. The village has a blacksmith shop, which is still functional and builds rings made of nails and some other decorative objects. Such blacksmith shops would also be used to fix gold prospector tools such as shovels and pick axes.

Further South on East Bidwell Street, we find many more businesses pretty much along the whole street up to Highway 50, including Folsom Lake College which is perched on top of a hill.

Around the old city named Prairie City which is now part of Folsom, we have another business center especially because of Intel Corporation (Note that Intel is the largest private employer in the Sacramento region.) There is a large supermarket and another bike store (He! He!) where I bought my first bike while living in California. This was my first aluminum bike. Very light! Unfortunately, I’m a grinder and broke it after about five years.

We also find many more businesses along Iron Point (which follows Highway 50) and Folsom Boulevard (which follows Lake Natoma and the Light Rail tracks).

On the East side, we have a really nice place at the intersection of East Natoma and Blue Ravine. Restaurants, retail stores, a fountain, all of which are pretty recent.

Folsom hosts many very nice stores, theaters, restaurants. If you like to go out, this is a nice place to get your next home!

Folsom History Museum

The old town of Folsom converted the old Wells Fargo bank in a History Museum.

It displays items from the Maidu to early 20th century. The Maidu were Native Americans who lived along the American River area before the European arrivals.

To complete your Native American History tour in Folsom, you want to go to the Power House and walk down to Natoma Lake. There is a grinding rock. This is a location where Natives would transform their acorn in flour to cook a form of bread similar to tortillas. If you have a chance to go to Folsom Zoo, there is also a grinding rock there, by the Tigers cage.

The museum has items that people would use in the 1800’s. Dresses, medicine, kitchen ware, a box of medicine, old pistols and saddles.

It also includes items from the Gold Rush, such as a large model of a dredger. They used large flat boats that would dig for gold ore. It was used in and around the American River. The river’s water was diverted to dig the whole area several miles South of the river. They even have one of the bucket from one of those dredgers on display. Many of the big piles of rocks around the Folsom and Orangevale areas come from that digging, which turned the ground up side down.

Fun Fact: it is now considered an offense to turn a stone in the Californian state parks. They say you can’t change the natural habitats. Once you know that the entire land has been turned over once, it just sounds funny!

The museum features a special exhibition every month, making it an interesting spot to visit every now and then. I like the old dresses (corset like dresses) which shows how fancy dresses looked like in the second half of the 19th century. There is also the display of quilts, where my wife had one of her grand mother’s quilt on display in 2004/2005.

Pioneer Village

By the modern Folsom Sutter Street Light Rail Train Station, the City of Folsom kept the old train warehouse that was used to fix the old coal and oil locomotives and wagons in the 1800s and early 1900s.  The warehouse would also fix stagecoaches (Folsom was a coach terminus) and other items.

The Turn Table is still functional and can be visited at any time (it is outside of the Pioneer Village area). Most of the old tracks were removed when the Light Rail was finally being installed in 2004/2005. A few years later, the City of Folsom also got a three stories parking lot that is most often used by the Light Rail users.

The Pioneer Village includes a blacksmith house with the fireplace used to heat the metal. It is still fully functional and a blacksmith is often on site during the weekend. It is mainly used for ornaments, although they have actual orders, such as building a steel gate, that they gladly fulfill.

The village also includes a warehouse in the back. This is where trains and cars would be fixed. They have a grange in the center with various cars of the time period: chariots, buggy, wood fire truck, and old tools and benches.

Next to the blacksmith, they built a fountain with several basins where they put specks of gold. You will always find a few pans that you can use to find the gold. If you ask me, it’s not easy! You need quite a bit of patience and training to do it right and efficiently (fast enough). But hey… Northern California is Gold Country, the place where so many rushed to get rich! A period very well represented by Charlie Chaplin movie named “The Gold Rush”. i.e. after all, not so many got rich while digging in a mine…

They present a few items of the Gold Rush too: a bucket from a large dredger, a wagon that was used to extract ore from the mines (those mini-cars we so often see in cartoons).

Finally, the exhibit has a real life size home of the time. As you will see, it fits one twin bed, an oven, and a small table. Not much more. The walls were covered with shelves as there wasn’t really any consequent storage space. While looking at it, think about whether you’d like to live in such a small home.

Train Museum

The Union Pacific Company, the train company that operated many of the trains in the Sacramento region (and still does) donated a caboose and another wagon to the City of Folsom so it could present them to the public.

The visit is free, although donations are accepted and used to maintain the exhibition. Before you could walk in the caboose, but it has been closed for a while now. Too many would climb on the ladders and jump around.

The other wagon includes a miniature train running around. In the winter they often light an old coal stove to heat the place. They have panels talking about the history of the rail road in the area, from San Francisco to the Nevada Mountain and beyond.

This is where you can learn more about who built the railroad tracks in the North West of California: Japanese people. They would come along and live on the spot to build the track as fast as possible. Their work included digging tunnels using dynamite.

This museum is just one car now. For a more serious train museum, I strongly suggest that you go Downtown Sacramento, in the old town. There is the state wide train museum with a good 100 wagons and locomotives, a few of which you can enter and visit inside. This one actually has a representation of a tunnel being blasted by Japaneses. It also includes really large old coal locomotive transformed to oil trains.

Folsom Power House State Historic Park

Livermore gave the State of California a large piece of their land to what is now Folsom Prison. The grant was a trade for labor that Livermore used to build a dam over the American River in order to divert water to an Electric Generator that would be in Old Folsom.

The generator was one of the first that could generate Alternative Current (AC) instead of what we had at the time: Direct Current (DC). This was incredible progress at the time.

Livermore did not get the prison labor right away. Somehow the prison did not get ready when it was first expected and Livermore had to wait a while before he could get all the expected labor from the State. Part of that labor came from regular workers since not enough prisoners could be supplied. As a result the work was probably of better quality than would have first been expected.

The Powerhouse was first operational in 1895. Contrary to DC, it is possible to send AC on long distances. The current was generated in Old Folsom, but all of it was being sent to Sacramento, 22 miles further down the river.

The generator would send 11,000 Volts along the lines. It was already High Voltage! Transformers in Sacramento would change that back down as required by the users there. For comparison, regular wood poles you see around your home today host 415 Volts and the very tall High Voltage black metallic posts host 66,000 Volts.

The power station remained in operation for 57 years, until 1952 when the new large Folsom Dam construction started. Folsom Dam hosted a brand new modern power station that would generate 198.7MW (the old station generated 3MW, 66 times less powerful).

Fun Facts

The City of Livermore, created in 1869, was named after Robert Livermore by William Mendenhall. Somehow the name stuck. William made that choice as he met Robert years earlier and appreciated his company.

Later, the city of Livermore got a Laboratory named the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This laboratory was testing various heavy elements and was able to create the element of atomic number 116. It has a mass of 290 to 293 and maybe 294 (294 has not yet been confirmed.) The laboratory decided to name the new element after their name and thus the element is called the Livermorium. The abbreviation is Lv.

The element was found and confirmed early in the 21st century (between 2000 and 2006). The tests started in 1999, one year after it was discovered by Robert Smolańczuk, a Polish Physicist. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) accepted the name on May 30, 2012.

The first attempts, as described by Robert Smolańczuk, were done by fusing Krypton (Kr) and Lead (Pb). These attempts did not work. Later Curium (Cm) was bombarded with Calcium (Ca) and generated the Livermorium element.

The longest lasting Livermorium was 60 milliseconds (0.06 seconds).

Education in Folsom

The public schools in Folsom are part of the Folsom Cordova Unified School District.

The following lists the schools by grade and alphabetically. Please make sure to contact them to confirm whether they still are opened and the exact grades they offer. Some preschools start sooner and some schools do not follow the usually Elementary/Middle/High school grades.

Remember that enrollments, in some cases, has to happen nearly one year before the student attends the school.

Note: many of the schools listed under Preschools also offer Day Care of really young children living in Folsom.

Preschools (3 to 5 years old)

Elementary Schools (1st to 6th grades)

Middle Schools (6th to 8th grades)

High Schools (9th to 12th grades)

Colleges / Universities / Other

Folsom Public Library

By the City Hall, the Zoo and Folsom Valley Railway Train, we find the Folsom Public Library. The City of Folsom operates the library.

The address is .

Phone: +(916) 355-7374

Hours: I suggest you verify those. In early 2018 it would open between 10am and 5pm, except on Tuesday/Wednesday it stays open until 8pm and opens at noon on Sundays.

Folsom Transportation

By Car / Motorbike

Interstate Highway 50 deserves Folsom by the West and the East.

Folsom Boulevard comes from Sacramento, goes through Folsom, and continues toward Auburn where it becomes Folsom Auburn Boulevard.

The former Folsom Dam Road was closed for security reasons after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A new bridge, the Folsom Lake Crossing, was built around 2008 and opened on March 28, 2009 to allow a quick drive between the Northern (Folsom Auburn Boulevard) and Eastern (East Bidwell) parts of Folsom. For a while, these people (26,000 cars/day) would drive through downtown making for very heavy traffic. The city even blocked some side roads to avoid having people using small roads in an attempt to go around the jammed roads.

By Public Transportation

Folsom has a bus service, the Folsom Stage Line, that is run by the City of Folsom and it has 3 stations along the Light Rail track by the River that are run by the city of Sacramento.

Since January 2018, all payments have to be done by card. Cash and tickets are not accepted any more. The cards can easily be refilled.

Folsom Stage Line—Route 10

This line goes from the Light Right train station at Iron Point to the Sacramento Bus Station in Orangevale where line 24 stops.

In between, it stops at the Historic Folsom station where you can hop on the Light Rail from the terminus.

Folsom Stage Line—Route 20

Route 20 runs from Empire Ranch Road, and on East Natoma, Vista del Lago High School, Folsom Lake College and also Transfers to Route 10.

Folsom Stage Line—Route 30

Route 30 services runs between the Folsom State Prison, the City Hall, and Woodmere Dr.

Note that this bus only runs at peak hours. About two hours in the mornings starting at 6am and again in the afternoon starting around 2:30.

By Bicycle

Folsom has a very large number of bike lanes (32 miles as of 2018). The one by the river, which starts at Old Folsom, can be used to go all the way down to Sacramento downtown. You’ll have to cross Hazel (at a light) and nothing else until you reach downtown.

There is a trail on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge that goes to the Northern part of Hazel, going East. From that side you can actually avoid the Hazel traffic lights. In the other direction (West) it goes further North toward the Folsom Crossing Bridge.

There are several place with bike trails inside Folsom. For example, by Glen you can take a trail that comes back out by Sibley Street close by Blue Ravine. There is also a trail along Willow Creek.

Folsom is close to a paradise for bikers!

Police Force

Folsom has a full Police Force of about 100 people working to protect the public. The Operation Division includes patrols, traffic, bicycles, a SWAT team, and an investigation branch. The inspectors work on narcotics, juveniles, property, and people.

The police has a special assistance program involving citizens living in Folsom. They can help as part of the Citizen’s Assisting Public Safety (CAPS). This volunteer program has won several awards.

The FBI lists Folsom has one of the city with the lowest crime in all of California.

In case of Emergency call 911 or 916 355 7230

Note that calls about medical or fire emergencies are re-routed through Sacramento. Police emergencies are taken care of by the local police of Folsom (FPD).

For Non-Emergency call 916 355 7231

You may also look at the Folsom Police Department website.

To report a crime on the Light Rail or around the tracks (crossings, train stations and parking lots,) you can contact the Regional Transit Police Service at 916 556 0275, you can also text to 67283 and start your text message with “sacrt”.

If you problems hearing or talking call 916 874 7128 (TDD) which is the Sacramento Police Department phone number.

You can also use their email, info@sacsheriff.com, for general information inquiries.

Physical location: 46 Natoma Street, Folsom, CA 95630.

Folsom Statistics

Location: 38.6780° N, 121.1761° W

Area: 30.07 square miles (77.87 km2) of which 9.69% (2.35 sqmi) is water (American River, Folsom Lake, Natoma Lake, Several Creeks)

Elevation: 220 ft (67 m)

Population: 72,203 (Census 2010)

Density: 2,789/square mile (1,077/km2)

Zip Codes: 95630, 95671, and 95763

Folsom is at the edge of the Sacramento County. To the East, we have El Dorado County. To the North, we have Place County. It was incorporated in April 20 of 1946.

History

The City of Folsom was first named Granite City. A lot of the rocks available in and around Folsom are made of Granite.

The city was laid out by Joseph Libbey Folsom. It was renamed Folsom after his death in 1855.

The city prospered in part because Joseph lobbied the city of Sacramento to get a railway to come all the way to Folsom. That old railway was used until the 1980s. After that, it was limited to the scrap metal park in Rancho Cordova and no train would go as far as Folsom Sutter Street. In 2005, the Light Rail Gold Line was extended and finally opened. This line again connects Folsom downtown to the City of Sacramento.

There were several Gold Rush town in the area: Prairie City, Salmon Falls, and Mormon Island. These areas are now part of Folsom.\

The Livermore family owned a large amount of land in the area. In 1880, they had an agreement with the state that wanted to build a prison. The agreement was to offer the land in exchange for labor from the prison to build a sawmill. There wasn’t enough water to get trees to float fro the forests to Folsom so that did not work. Later they converted the water power in electricity by building the Powerhouse, which is still standing. That was a great financial success. Note that the state did not fulfill their side of the bargain for too long, so the Livermore sued the state and instead got regular workers to start the work on the dam. Some prisoners helped only later on.

The large Chinese community living in Folsom was driven out of town in Marsh 1886 because of arson. The China Town of Folsom was gone at that time.

The Powerhouse of Folsom operated until 1952 when work on the large Folsom Dam started. The new power plant started generating in 1956. The new Dam would also be of incredible help to control floods further down the valley. Every few years, Sacramento would end up under many feet of water. The home of Leland Stanford which has been the Californian Governors Home for years and is now a State Museum has painted marks showing how high various floods got. One not only reached the second floor, it completely flooded that second floor!