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Back in time

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Main powerhouse and wooden flume

Ever since my visit to the historic Folsom powerhouse last September, I’ve been itching to go back — mostly because I wasn’t satisfied with some of the photos I came home with. Well, it took four months but I finally made it back for another try. Even though I was there on a weekend, I nearly had the place to myself.

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Marble switchboard, main powerhouse

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The well-lit interior of the main powerhouse is where most people head; when the park is open there’s always a docent there, happy to talk about the marble switchboard and the big black governors. If you step through the open door on the left (visible below the clock in the image above), you’ll find the enormous penstocks which carried water down to the turbines.

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My very favorite spot was the narrow walkway passing alongside the granite wall of the forebay. Most of the time this area is off limits to visitors, but since there was no one else around when I was there, the docent allowed me to in take a picture.

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The forebay wall is on the left, the turbines and penstocks to the right

I discovered that, while the main powerhouse building is open on a regular basis, it takes a bit more luck — or phoning ahead of time — to get inside the lower powerhouse. That’s because the docents who know all the ins and outs of the big machinery aren’t always available to hang out in this fairly isolated building just in case some curious tourist wanders in.

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Approach to Lower Powerhouse

Next time I’ll give you a look inside the lower powerhouse building and show you some historic water levels on this stretch of the American River.

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