Folsom State Prison (FSP)
Special Historical Notes
The California Legislature authorized the construction of Folsom State Prison in 1858. Twenty years later, in 1878, construction began on one of the nations first maximum-security prisons. On July 26, 1880, Folsom received its first 44 inmates. The inmates were transferred by boat from San Quentin State Prison to Sacramento and then by train from Sacramento to the prison.
Folsom State Prison's location was selected due to an unlimited amount of native granite stone for building the prison. Also, the American River offered ample water and formed a natural boundary. Inmate laborers built the first dam and canal on the American River, which led to the first hydroelectric power generation for the Sacramento area.
Originally designed to hold inmates serving long sentences, habitual criminals, and incorrigibles, Folsom State Prison quickly gained the reputation of being the end of the line. Prior to the completion of the granite wall in the 1920's, the prison witnessed numerous escape attempts; the first one occurring shortly after the first inmates arrived in 1880. Throughout Folsom's violent and bloody history, numerous riots and escape attempts have resulted in both inmate and staff deaths.
The Folsom Museum is located near the entrance of Folsom Prison. Run solely through the support of volunteers, the museum contains an abundance of documents and artifacts from throughout Folsom's long and colorful history.
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