The Trail

The Johnny Cash Overpass Bridge: the New Gateway to the City of Folsom

6/30/2016 | By Johnny Cash Trail| Johnny Cash Trail

The Johnny Cash Bridge is a familiar site for Folsom’s residents and visitors. As you’re driving down Folsom Lake Crossing heading towards East Natomas with the lake in your rearview mirror, the bridge welcomes you into the city. Two distinctive towers stand guard on either side of the street, connected by a sturdy metal walkway arching over the road.

This bridge has served as a gateway to Folsom since it opened in the Fall of 2014, so it only makes sense that the structure pays tribute to two of Folsom’s biggest names- Folsom Prison and Johnny Cash.

But there’s a lot you might not know about this remarkable structure:

  • What’s so special about its design?
  • What’s it made out of?
  • What’s up with the flags, anyways?

Read on to discover what makes the Johnny Cash Bridge such a special landmark.


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Black Line

What Makes The Johnny Cash Bridge One-Of-A-Kind?

The Johnny Cash Trail has always been about paying tribute to the city of Folsom, and that shows in the design of the Johnny Cash Overpass Bridge. The bridge’s architecture is modeled after another architectural wonder right here in Folsom… the east gate of Folsom Prison.


Architecture For The Ages


The prison’s East Gate is built in the Romanesque style of medieval Europe, and cuts quite the imposing figure. Pointed towers crown the gate. The gate is a familiar site. Even if you’ve never visited the prison you may recognize it; the East Gate’s featured in some of the most famous pictures of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison.

The East Gate of Folsom Prison was the inspiration for the Johnny Cash Overpass bridge in Folsom.

Did you know? The pillars of the overpass are hollow inside!


A Green Bridge For A Greener Folsom


The bridge wasn’t just built as a monument to Folsom’s history… it was built for a more sustainable future, too!

This bridge may look gray and orange, but it’s sustainable materials make it a “green” structure.

The original East Gate was made from local granite hand-hewn by early prisoners. But the engineers and architects of Ultrablock and Dokken Engineering who built the bridge opted for a material much more at home in the 21st century… recycled and reclaimed concrete.

Because it’s built using recycled materials, the Johnny Cash Bridge is environmentally and economically efficient.

That’s one hefty concrete bridge with a light footprint.

Bridge on Johnny Cash Art Trail with Flags


What’s Up With The Flags?


If you’ve driven underneath the bridge, or jogged across, you’ve probably noticed something else unique about it… the flags!

What’s up with the flags on the bridge?

The cheery flags rotate throughout the year to celebrate important holidays and events.

You’ve probably already noticed a few of the flag’s rotations:

  • When the international AmGen bike race came through Folsom the bridge flew international flags to represent the riders’ home countries.
  • For memorial day, the bridge was decorated in flags representing each branch of the military.
  • The bridge’s summertime flags celebrate the 4th of July. If you look closely at the American flags flying from the overpass, you’ll even spot the 13 star flag from the American Revolution!

So next time you drive under the bridge, take a look and see which flags are flying!

So What’s Next?

The Johnny Cash Trail project will bring exciting benefits to Folsom, like new tourism and public art. As the start of the trail and the gateway to Folsom, the bridge is a vital part of that project.

The unique architecture, sustainable materials, and cheery flags give the Johnny Cash Bridge a distinct flair that makes it immediately recognizable. The bridge celebrates Folsom’s history and future, which makes it the perfect gateway for such a vibrant city.


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