Gold Rush-era remnants revealed by falling water levels at Folsom Lake

Local News

FOLSOM LAKE, Calif. (KTXL) – On what is normally a portion of the Folsom lakebed, remnants of Gold Rush-era settlements are now reemerging.

The community of Salmon Falls was established in 1848 and, according to the Folsom Historical Society, once had a population of 2,500 gold rush settlers.

Remnants of their way of life are now visible, including the old Salmon Falls Bridge, a fascinating site for families who made the hike on this beautiful day.

“It’s completely underwater in the summer. It’s completely flooded so it’s cool to see that,” one young visitor told FOX40.

“I was amazed at how well it has stood up being under a lake most of the time. It’s really well put together,” another said.

The historical society says that when the Folsom Dam was built in the 1950s some descendants of the early settlers were living here. They had to accept a government purchase of their land and move to higher ground, making way for the lake.

Bits and pieces of the foundations of buildings on the site can now be seen, along with other stone structures that have spent most of the last 65 years underwater.

They give rise to the imagination as visitors try to piece together what they were once part of.

“We think they were part of another bridge that didn’t survive when the water came over it,” one visitor said.

The roots of what were once groves of trees can also be seen still clinging to earth.

Something else visitors noticed: the level of the American River feeding into this area is constantly changing.

“The snow melts and then it comes down here,” one visitor explained.

As fascinating as the uncovered artifacts are, a better snowpack and higher water level would certainly be better news for the Sacramento region’s water supply.

The area is accessible by trail where Salmon Falls Road crosses over Sweetwater Creek in El Dorado Hills. Parking, however, is very limited.

On another part of the lake near Browns Ravine, remnants of the old Gold Rush town of Mormon Island are still mostly under water.

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