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Interesting Facts About Folsom State Prison

Exciting Facts About Folsom State Prison

What's fascinating about California is the number of different prisons located here. Modern prisons such as California City Correctional Facility, Kern Valley State Prison, and the California Health Care Facility (also a prison despite the name) - are all in California. There are also many old and abandoned prisons - this article focuses on Folsom State Prison, which opened in 1880. Folsom is the second oldest prison in California, while San Quentin State Prison is the oldest one and opened in 1852. If you have plans to drive-by and check it out, here are some interesting facts you should know about the prison.

An Ice Plant Inside a Prison

When you hear the word prison, you would not typically associate it with an ice plant manufacturer. However, Folsom State Prison made ice between the 1890s and 1900s. The prison made so much ice that the California Legislature provided $162,000 to purchase more ice-machines. The ice plant within the prison helped improve California's fruit-growing industry, allowing the state to ship fresh produce around the USA without fear of it spoiling.

Women and Prisons

Nowadays, you can find many prisons around California, like the Valley State Prison for Women, that holds female inmates. But in the past, Folsom Prison accommodated only a few women, precisely six. They were the only women to ever stay in this jail. November 1885 was when Folsom Prison received the first female inmate, with the last one arriving in 1929. The warden separated the genders into different prison sections and imposed strict rules, including that both men and women should not talk or mingle together.

A Prison With No Walls?

Prisons usually have barricaded walls or barbed fences so that prisoners cannot escape, but that was not the case with Folsom State Prison. No walls surrounded the entire prison buildings during its first four decades. The only security was the towers with correctional officers armed with rifles if a prisoner tried to escape or caused any disturbances within the prison. However, the prison started constructing granite walls around 1909 until completion in 1923.

The Dam Before The Folsom Dam

Besides the ice plant, Folsom had a dam built near the prison property, along the American River (even before the Folsom Dam). The dam's construction started in 1867 for logging activities. Even the builders hired prisoners from Folsom to install the granite blocks dug up from the Folsom Prison grounds. Unfortunately, both the sawmill and the dam shut down in 1899 after 3 million feet of logs forced them over the dam because of heavy, continuous rain.

Johnny Cash

People from the 1950s onwards know of the country singer Johnny Cash. He was so much of a sensation that he performed several times inside Folsom Prison. He did a show in 1966 and two more concerts in 1968. The movie "Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison" was shot inside the prison in the 1950s, which Johnny Cash took inspiration from and made his famous song titled "Prison Blues."


In the past, prisons like Folsom Prison had fewer security features that made them inefficient at holding prisoners and providing decent accommodations. Nowadays, it's virtually impossible to escape from jail because of modern technological advances, including medium and high-security access doors that protect prison systems from getting tampered with illegally. California Access Doors has specialty products, including high-security access panels and anti-ligature access doors designed for corrections facilities and psychiatric hospitals. Discover our collection online or call for more details.

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