THE NATIONAL BIG HOUSE PRISON MUSEUM
Building a better understanding of the Corrections profession
(916) 985-2561 ext. 4589
About the Retired Correctional Peace Officers Museum at
FOLSOM STATE PRISON
The Retired Correctional Peace Officers (RCPO) Museum at Folsom State Prison (founded in 1975), is operated by the Retired Correctional Peace Officers Association. The museum is a non-profit charitable organization, not an entity of the state. The museum is dedicated to the prison staff who have died from cancer. The museum donates to The American Cancer Society, Fisher House and Make-A Wish programs.
The museum chronicles the prison’s bloddy history. Discover the reason for Johnny Cash’s “Blues” at Folsom State Prison. Learn how the prison was fashioned from gray granite from the surrounding rock quarries. The museum features a wealth of photographs, old hemp ropes used to hang prisoners, memorabilia from Johnny Cash’s famed concert shows, a hand-cranked Gatling gun, many inmate manufactured weapons and an eight-foot motorized Ferris wheel created by a prisoner in the 1930s, which is made of a quarter million toothpicks.
Most people perceive prisons through the filter of television or movies; these only provide a tracing of facts. The primary goal of the museum is to educate the public about the realities of prison life through a multitude of exhibits.
The museum is housed in old house #8. Just insde the prison’s Entrance Gate. It is only one of two prison museums still operating in California at this time. The museum is staffed by volunteer docents who warmly welcome the opportunity to share the prisons vast history with all who enter. The admission fee of $2.00 is donated to the aforementioned charities. Visitors to the museum are first invited to view a video which will take them on a brief tour of the prison.
There is a mock cell in the rear of the museum depicting rock walls similar to the type making up the original cell block. This cell displays an animated life-sized mannequin dressed in a black and white striped prisoner’s uniform. The face of the mannequin sports a big black mustache as worn in the 1890s era. If properly persuaded, “Sam” will gladly share the living conditions as they occurred in the early days.
The prison turned 125 years old on July 26, 2005, with no fanfare to celebrate the honor of Folsom State Prison and the men and women for their years of service and dedication to the prison and the State of California. The museum did commission a small seven point badge in honor of the prison turning 125 years old. This 125 year pin and other items are available for purchase to commemorate your visit to the museum.