Our Visit to Mormon Island at Folsom Lake

While in California, my family and I spent an afternoon at Folsom Lake. Or what’s left of it anyway. It is the lowest it has been in 60 years. And boy, is it sad…

Folsom Lake - then and now

photo source

It may be a sad sight to see the lake so low, but it’s a well-visited area, even now as the boats sit in the parking lot of the marina. The draw? Under all of the water that is usually held back by Folsom Dam, lived an old mining community.

Early in March 1848, W. Sidney, S. Willis, and Wilford Hudson, members of the Mormon Battalion, set out from Sutter’s Fort to hunt deer. Stopping on the south fork of the American River, they found gold. They told their story on returning to the fort, and soon about 150 Mormons and other miners flocked to the site, which was named Mormon Island. This was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall’s discovery at Coloma.  –source

As history would have it, the town was destroyed by fire in 1856 and was never rebuilt. The community completely dwindled after the California gold rush, leaving only a few families by the 1940s. In it’s finer days, however, the population of the town was more than 2,500, and had four hotels, three dry-goods stores, five general merchandise stores, an express office, and many small shops.

mormon island

When Folsom Dam was built, all but the cemetery at Mormon Island – which was moved – was all but destroyed. With the current drought in the Sacramento area, the remains of the old mining community are now explored and photographed by hundreds.

Including us…

Folsom Lake - Mormon Island

Mormon Island - Folsom Lake

Ride the Ducks in San Francisco

You can pretty much guarantee that a hot day here in the Sacramento area will mean a cool one in the Bay. Yesterday was no exception – it was a gorgeous day in San Francisco. It is a special treat to be able to escape from the heat so easily.

We headed in to the city for a day of family fun. Of course we had to grab some hot chocolate at Boudin’s before anything else, but the real fun began when we boarded our “duck” for a Ride the Ducks tour and became little quack-ers.

Our captain – Mr. Roger – first drove us around “his neighborhood.” He was hilarious from the start, and kept us all laughing. We got the grand tour of downtown, North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, and more, before heading into the bay. Once we hit the water, Captain Roger let all of the kiddos (and even some of the adults!) drive the boat. Now, that was a HUGE hit!

If ever you visit The City By The Bay we would definitely recommend a Ride the Ducks tour. Make sure you ask for Mr. Roger. And, tell him that “the big family with all the boys” sent ya!


So, I almost got a speeding ticket trying to get to the Alcatraz ferry in San Francisco.

But, I got lucky and he was called away to something more serious. We actually made it to the island.

From there, we explored the history and the escapes.

Pretty spooky stuff. Ever seen Shutter Island?

We walked up the hill – equal to a 13 story building – and embarked on the audio tour of the prison.

We learned about Al Capone going crazy with sipholus, and the Birdman.

Let’s just say I would not want to be here for 8-10 years, like most were.

But, at least they had the sounds and sights of the City to keep them going. Sort of.

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