Exhibit celebrates 50 year history of Folsom Dam exhibit opens Saturday at history museum

By: Philip Wood
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On Saturday a new exhibit at the Folsom History Museum will celebrate the 50-year history of Folsom Dam. The exhibit, "Floods & Flows: 50 Years at Folsom Dam" covers the history of water issues before the dam was built, current issues and what the future will and could hold for the dam. It also shows a timeline of the area going back to 1830, when Native Americans were the area's first residents. "It focuses on the need for the dam and then history of it - the construction," said Pauline Calvillo, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation employee who helped set up the exhibit. "We're also going to have a time line in there showing the significant events that lead up to the construction and on a broader basis - the Central Valley Project." The exhibit, which will remain at the museum until the end of July, shows a variety of related items. One of those is a long cylindrical core sample of granite taken from the ground the dam was built on. "They had to make sure it was solid when they built the dam," said Park Interpreter Rodi Lee, a California State Parks employee who also worked on the exhibit. The core samples were taken to test if the ground under the dam was stable enough to build on. They're still being taken to this day, Calvillo said. But even more interesting are the oral histories of some of the workers who built the dam. "We're going to have an oral history booth where people can pick up a phone and listen to a clip of one person we interviewed who worked on Folsom Dam," Calvillo said. There will also be a half dozen oral histories for people to read. Part of the exhibit focuses on the need for the dam and its purpose. "There are many uses for the dam," Calvillo said. "Flood control and (water) storage was the primary reason it was built. Because it has the stored water, we also have the power plant. "It also provides water for the delta, continues year-round flows, recreation, agriculture and provides for fish and wildlife habitat along the American River," she continued. Also on display is a life-size penstock, the pipe the water traverses from Folsom Lake to the power plant to the turbines. The Folsom History Museum, located at 823 Sutter Street in historic Folsom, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays thorough Sundays. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for youth. Children under age 12 are free.