On October 14th, 2017, the City of Folsom proudly opened The Johnny Cash Trail to the public.
A 2.5-mile length of paved bike trail, The Johnny Cash Trail connects to Folsom’s already expansive trail network. Most notably, the trail connects the American River Trail, recognized as one of the top bike trails in the nation, to the Folsom Lake trail, by way of Folsom Prison.
With the bike trail infrastructure now in place and in use, the City of Folsom is in the process of raising funds to create a world-class linear public art experience that will celebrate and honor the legendary Johnny Cash, his music, and his history with the City of Folsom.
Along the community trail, eight larger-than-life public art pieces will be installed, telling the story of Johnny Cash and his historic connection to Folsom Prison. The opportunity to use a smartphone apps and an audio tour will enrich user experience. With these walking tours, each art piece will come to life, incorporating Cash’s music, historical documentary information, and interactive elements.
Why is the City Fundraising?
Art installations to celebrate the life and legacy of Johnny Cash are all planned and the community is eager for the artists to get creating.
Although the artwork along The Johnny Cash Trail will be installed for the enjoyment of all, the taxpayers of Folsom are not footing the bill for the work.
Rather, it is through fundraising efforts and the generous contributions – from residents of Folsom, patrons of the arts, trail goers, history buffs, and Man in Black fans, alike – that the art pieces will be created.
Contributions of any kind are immensely helpful and appreciated, however it turns out that donations from local residents are actually better for the community itself. Recent studies show that participating in the creation of public art projects can increase residents’ sense of belonging and encourage them to identify as part of the community.
The Folsom Arts Association is currently culminating funds to begin the installment of the first art pieces: Cash’s Picks.
Designed by trail artist Adan Romo, these 7-foot bronze replicas of Johnny Cash’s guitar picks, embellished with Cash’s signature, will mark the beginning and end of the 2.5-mile trail.
Who Benefits from the Johnny Cash Trail Art?
We all know and appreciate that public art can be a fun, thought-provoking, and entertaining experience. Lesser known are the benefits that public art installations bring to the health and economy of surrounding communities.
Benefits to Residents
Public art installations are shown to have vast health benefits, both mental and physical. Not only can exposure to art boost your immune system and reduce stress, it can also facilitate faster recovery from injury or illness.
Those who come out to the enjoy the Johnny Cash Trail art experience will have the added benefit of being in nature. Similarly, those who come out to spend time in nature will be drawn to, and benefit from, the art pieces.
Benefits to Community
Public art installations in community spaces can have a very positive impact on the community itself. Public arts increase community members’ sense of identity and belonging by reinforcing the social connections they feel with their surrounding neighborhood and nearby residents.
Boost in Tourism
Public art is being proven to be a powerful draw for tourism, especially when it celebrates local historical figures or events. Many Cash fans make a pilgrimage to Folsom Prison just to stand outside the site where the iconic recording of At Folsom Prison took place 50 years ago. With the creation of the art pieces celebrating and commemorating the life and career of Johnny Cash, many more Man in Black fans will certainly be drawn to the region.
Folsom can expect an increase in Folsom Prison/ Johnny Cash tourism, with many more fans being drawn to the area by the trail and art experience in tribute to the Man in Black. And it is likely that those who would have come, with or without its creation, will now stay longer. More visitors, who are staying longer, means economic growth for local businesses and the region as a whole.
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Fundraising for the Johnny Cash Trail
Want to be a part of this incredible project? The City of Folsom has its first round of fundraising activities underway. Here’s how you can make your mark on the trail:
Limited Edition Collectible
Along with the City of Folsom, the John R. Cash Revocable Trust, and California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), the DMV has authorized 100 limited edition license plates collectibles to be made in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cash’s prison performance.
A California legacy plate, the classic black license plate with yellow lettering, was forged from the same molds that were used in the 1960s. The JCASH50 collectible plates were made inside Folsom Prison's license plate manufacturing facility.
The collectible includes the limited edition plate, framed along with a picture of Johnny Cash standing in front of Folsom Prison’s East Gate that was taken on the day of his iconic performance.
Did you know you can actually put your name on the Johnny Cash Trail?
The steel donor wall, of varying heights, is located near the Johnny Cash Bridge, and the future home of the Johnny Cash Legacy Park at Folsom Lake Crossing and E. Natoma Street. Unveiled in May of 2017, the Donor Wall bears the names of the individuals, families, and organizations who’ve contributed to the trail.
This tribute to trail contributors is built to withstand the test of time. Designed and created by local artist Adan Romo, the Donor Wall is a celebration of the people who are enthusiastically bringing this project to life. Approximately 8-feet tall and 14-feet wide, the wall is forged from the same corten steel that can be found on the nearby Johnny Cash Bridge.
The Johnny Cash Trail joins Folsom’s legendary trail network, prized by cyclists near and far. These limited-edition cycling kits are designed to show off your love for Cash and cycling.
Featuring the Johnny Cash Trail logo with guitar string and yellow guitar pick accents, the black and white men’s cycling jerseys back displays Johnny Cash’s signature as well as a silhouetted Man in Black with guitar case in hand. The men’s bibs are black and gray with guitar string and yellow guitar pick accents.
Black and white women’s jerseys feature the Johnny Cash Trail logo on the front and Johnny Cash’s signature and silhouette on the back, accented with guitar strings and pink guitar pick accents. The women’s bibs are black and gray with guitar string and pink guitar pick accents.
Made in California by Voler, all the proceeds from these limited-edition cycling kits go to the funding of the eight art installations along the Johnny Cash Trail.
At any amount, a monetary gift goes directly to the non-profit organization bringing the art to the Johnny Cash Trail.
Host to special events – like the Johnny Cash Trail Grand Opening Celebration Fun Run – fundraising efforts include interactive community events that not only bring in money for the creation of art installations but bring people together to experience the very trail that they are contributing to.
Being on the trail for a community event creates a sense of pride and ownership in both the trail and art experience, bolstering a sense of community. And, it’s super fun!
Upcoming Fundraising Opportunities
While there are several ways to contribute to the trail art at this time, there will be many more opportunities coming up in the future, at all levels of giving. With eight art installations in the works, all entirely funded through public support, there will certainly be a fundraiser that fits everyone’s needs.
Interested in being part of the legacy but haven’t yet found an avenue that suits you yet? Stay tuned – with all that there is left to complete, there will certainly be one for you down the road.