Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Folsom Lake: Mormon Island Ruins

Who knew that the lake I live so close to had a super secret sunken city beneath it? Not me, and I've lived here practically my whole life!  I guess for others it's not so super of a secret. And the city beneath Folsom Lake is the ruins of Mormon Island. And I only happened to find out because the water levels of the lake have plummeted, revealing the ruins.

Folsom Lake before (top)  and Folsom Lake now (bottom) with low water levels

For anyone who's a history buff, it was in the mid-1800's when a group of Mormons and other miners came to this area for the gold rush. It became a small city and, at its peak, had a population of more than 2,500 and included four hotels, a school and many small shops. In the 1940's, only few families remained and moved out of the area when Folsom Dam was built and the city was intentionally flooded with water to create Folsom Lake.

So over the weekend we took a trip to the lake, along with hundreds of other people. The parking was down the boat launch areas. We knew we reached the spot where the ruins were exposed when we came across this sign:


The tops of tree stumps had artifacts displayed, left by people who found the items, including bricks from buildings, glass, rusty tools and nails, and pottery pieces.

The coolest thing to see were the walls of buildings and an old cemetery from the outskirts of the city. The rest of the city still lies about 90 feet below the lake...but the way this drought is headed, more could be uncovered yet. 
The corner of a building

The largest wall uncovered. Stands about 8ft tall.

This is the foundation from the school.
 I loved learning about history so close to home. So much, that we took a trip to Folsom Prison right afterwards (but that's a post for another day!).
My two youngest boys had a blast!

What kind of history does your town hold?


Kittie Howard said...

I'm sorry the drought caused such water depletion, but the old city revealed is amazing! That wall is incredible -- I could imagine people passing, stopping to chat . . . a treasure trove of history is there. (And your photos are great.)

Slamdunk said...

Sorry to hear that the dry weather has been so much a challenge for everyone, but exposing the ruins is certainly a must see. I remember a few years ago when the Mississippi River was at record lows--the number of old shipwrecks was unreal.

Rose Cooper said...

Thank you, Kittie! And yes, so amazing!

Wow! that would be incredible to see old shipwrecks.