On January 13th, 1968 Johnny Cash recorded his album At Folsom Prison during a live performance for inmates and guards at Folsom Prison. Not only did this iconic performance catapult Cash’s waning career into lifelong success, it made Folsom and it’s prison a household name. Johnny Cash and Folsom Prison are now forever synonymous - hear one and you inevitably think of the other.
Fifty years after this legendary moment in music history, the City of Folsom is paying homage to the bond between Johnny Cash and Folsom with the Johnny Cash Trail project.
Folsom’s Johnny Cash Trail
The trail, completed in October of last year, connects not only two of the area’s beautiful waterways – the American River and Folsom Lake – but also two places of extensive historic interest: Historic Folsom District and Folsom Prison. Curving through rolling hills dotted with oak trees, the trail travels along the edge of prison grounds.
Designed to encourage community enrichment, the trail is open to all. Whether on bike or by foot, the trail provides plenty of opportunity to get out into nature and enjoy the benefits of exercise.
Coming soon to the trail, through fundraising efforts, will be the art experience: eight art installations inspired by the Man in Black and his historic performance in Folsom. The beautiful sculptures – designed and created by local public art firm Romo Studios and the Illinois based Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany – will be placed along the trail alongside breathtaking natural vistas.
What the Johnny Cash Trail Brings to the Community
Johnny Cash may be the inspiration behind this one-of-a-kind project, but it’s the local community who will get the most benefit from the trail and public art.
Adding to Folsom’s Already Expansive Trail Network
Folsom’s 45+ miles of beautiful, paved trails are considered by many residents to be one of the City’s most cherished assets. Folsom’s trail network takes cyclists and pedestrians on a journey through greenbelts, dedicated open space corridors, wooded areas with native oaks, through wildlife habitats, and past creeks, streams, lakes, and rivers.
The Johnny Cash Trail is only 2.5 miles long, but it connects to Folsom’s already expansive trail network. Most notably, the trail connects to the American River Trail, recognized as one of the top bike trails in the nation.
The 32-mile long American River Trail, also known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, is used by approximately 5 million people annually. The origin of the trail dates back to the 1800s, when Jedediah Smith broke a trail between Old Sacramento and Folsom. Largely abandoned for many decades, after automotive travel took over as the main mode of transportation, the trail was rediscovered by cyclists and paved in the 1970s to be enjoyed again.
The Johnny Cash Trail connects with existing trail in the Historic Folsom District, where cyclists can access the Folsom leg of the American River Trail.
Connecting to Nature
Looking to elevate your mood and reduce anxiety? These are only a couple of mental health benefits you’ll experience when hitting the trail. Getting outside can give your immune system a major boost while clearing your head. Not only does a dose of sunshine help you meet your Vitamin D minimum for the day, but time on the trail gives you brain a break from all the technological stimuli that can bog it down, improving thought function and lifting your spirits.
Get Your Blood Pumping
We all know that exercise is important. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, regular exercise is the number one most important thing you can do to stave off chronic health conditions. Take those physical benefits, mix with improvement to your mental health, and you’ve got a recipe for a well rounded self care routine that will keep you on the trail for years to come.
Giving Your Family Trail Time
Gathering your brood for a day on the trail can have all sorts of positive impacts. From helping your littles develop an appreciation for nature to encouraging them to be active, teaching them to care for mind and spirit to making new and lasting memories with them, the takeaway from a family day spent in the outdoors include far reaching benefits for young and old, alike.
Makes Historic Connections
Leading to Folsom’s Historic District, the Johnny Cash Trail takes you right to the raised wood sidewalks laid before restaurants, shops, museums, and other points of interest, helping you enjoy an entertaining end – or beginning – to a fun and healthful day on the trail.
The Historic Folsom District is the “heart of Folsom,” with more than 80 businesses and more than 200 years of Gold Rush history, just moments away from the Johnny Cash Trail.
The REAL Story Behind Johnny Cash & Folsom Prison Blues
Discover the REAL story of Folsom Prison Blues, the anthem which would become one of Johnny Cash’s most beloved and well-known songs.
What the Johnny Cash Trail Does for Cash Fans
As Folsom is a tourist destination for fans of Johnny Cash, the trail and accompanying art pieces are sure to increase interest and be a major draw for travel activity in the region, certain to stimulate the local economy.
Every year, many-a-Man-in-Black-fan travels to Folsom, California to pay homage to Johnny Cash, drawn to the iconic place that he sang about on the album that was recorded within the prison walls.
While this is a very exciting pilgrimage for many, it can create a bit of a nuisance for the prison authorities. A prison isn’t exactly designed to be a tourist destination. Not only are guards posted to keep prisoners in, they also keep watch to make sure the public stays out.
A trip to the Folsom Prison Museum and a quick photo-op in front of the prison are exciting for lovers of all things Cash, but it may not be enough of a draw to convince those considering a vacation to Folsom to book their reservation.
The Johnny Cash Trail and upcoming art installations expand the points of interest for visiting Cash fans, allowing more variety in how them can celebrate and pay homage to the Man in Black.
Knowing that an interactive art experience awaits them upon their arrival may be the very thing that turns a would-be visitor into a will-be. And the more, the merrier, as we all know a boom in tourism means a boom for local economy.
True fans, that have traveled from far and wide, will be elated to enjoy a trail that leads to many art installations created in honor of the very man they are here to celebrate.
But they aren’t the only ones that the art pieces benefit.
What Art Installations Bring to the Community
While the inspiration behind the trail and art installations is to celebrate Johnny Cash’s infamous performance at Folsom Prison, the benefits to the community are vast and far-reaching.
It has been shown that public art has a very positive effect on surrounding communities, not only bringing joy to those who view and experience it, but also generating economic benefits.
Sparking job growth and a tourism influx, public art installations not only inspire travel, but can also persuade those traveling to the area for other reasons to extend their stay. Arts and cultural activities are often a determining factor in where one travels and how long they choose to stay.
Imagine arriving in Folsom for a trip to enjoy Historic Folsom. Perhaps there is a street fair or festival that brings you, or maybe you just want to experience the Gold Rush town in all its glory. Upon exploring a bit you find out about the Johnny Cash Trail, winding from the Historic District to the prison, with eight larger than life art installations paying tribute to the Man in Black along the way.
Can you see yourself extending the trip for a day so you can fit in an afternoon on the trail?
Many people surely will, adding another night and day to their stay, thereby bolstering the economy of local businesses.
Whether you are interested in hitting the trail, celebrating Johnny Cash and his historical significance to the city of Folsom, or simply want to experience the art, the Johnny Cash Trail is here for the benefit of everyone. See you on the trail!