Spotlight Columns

Folsom History Museum features the Fab ’50s

By From page B2 | February 11, 2013

For a blast from the past or a walk down Memory Lane, the Folsom Museum is always a fun venue. This month, however, is especially noteworthy. Former students from Folsom High School in the 1950s collaborated to create “Folsom in the 1950s.”

There are a number of things that make this exhibit worth your time.

Folsom’s history encompasses much of the tri-county region, and pre-dates El Dorado Hills (which was known as Clarksville until development in the early 1960s). About 40 percent of the students at FHS came from outside of Folsom – from Clarksville, Mather Air Force Base, Latrobe, Salmon Falls and Represa (Folsom Prison).

The ’50s, in retrospect, were a conservative and idyllic time. Folsom was both typical and unique. And the generations that experienced that time are passing away. This era was, after all, more than 60 years ago.

The exhibit is an homage to the ’50s, with a tip of the hat to “look how far we’ve all come.” The first display shows some of those differences in technology: rotary dial phones and cell phones, massive calculating machines and calculators, typewriters and computers. Just think, a smart phone can replace all of these today.

Displays cover what life was like for those living in Folsom, including Represa. There are displays on the significant events that occurred that were part of the fabric of everyday life: the Pioneer Festival and Rodeo, football games at FHS (including a significant championship game), Sutter Street, elementary school events and the building of Folsom Dam.

Two vintage cars, as well as clothing, are on show as well.

Sprinkled throughout the displays are comments by those who lived in Folsom. Among my favorites are:

“Our social gatherings were through the schools, churches and fraternal organizations: DeMolay, Rainbow, Eastern Star and Job’s Daughters.”

“When you were looking for something to do you went down to Sutter Street. You would always meet someone. You could go fishing or swimming, to a movie or start a pick-up baseball game. Organized sports like Little League came in the late ’50s.”

“Rainbow Bridge was much narrower and dangerous to walk across, so we used to get across by using the arch under the roadway. In August, before the dam was built, we could walk across the river.”

“The Pioneer Festival and Rodeo was great fun and a very important part of our social year.”

“Parent participation in school activities were part of life. High school dances would include parents. Parents supported school discipline.”

As you browse through each display, you are treated to the soundtrack of life in the 1950s — the era of Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and the Everly Brothers.

Don’t forget to take in the rest of the museum as well. These exhibits document the fascinating and rich history of our community, from the Maidu Indians to the Gold Rush, to the current day. Always worth a look.

“Folsom in the 1950s” runs through March 17.

The Folsom History Museum is located at 823 Sutter St. in Folsom’s Historic District. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4 adults, $2 teens, free for kids 12 and younger. For more information call (916) 985-2707 or visit 

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected].

Susan Laird


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