THE NATIONAL BIG HOUSE PRISON MUSEUM
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Folsom Prison History
The blocks were built of native stone and here the foresight of the Board of Directors will be noticed. Granite was plentiful and easily quarried and could be used on the spot. Each block was a unit unto itself. To gain a complete picture, one has to only imagine a child with a set of building blocks and the urge to build a "long house." The buildings throughout were of solid stone, tremendous slabs of granite laid one on the other, mortar between. As the blocks were two cells high and as the granite was too cumbersome to be used as the layer between, sheet iron was substituted. This constituted the only foreign building material in the construction of the blocks.
The cells were equipped with heavy iron doors, solid except for a slit ten by three inches which served for ventilation and checking purposes. There were no plumbing facilities and under the circumstances, none could be expected. No lights were installed at this time, the records do not disclose any manner of illumination. Such was the hurry, that the contractors built the original buildings with no provisions for a water system. This proved to be one of the first serious situations faced by the new officials.
Each cell was built to accommodate two prisoners. Two wooden bunks were built, with straw mattresses and pillows, two blankets and two buckets, one for drinking water and the other for toilet facilities, completed the furnishings.