North Fork Ditch

I’m sure that one reason I find the North Fork Ditch remnants at Folsom Lake so fascinating is that their history goes all the way back to the mid 1850s. (Ditches were also constructed around the same period along both sides of the South Fork, but I’ve never seen the remains of these.) I’ve shot photos of bits and pieces of the ditch before — for example, at Avery’s Pond — but the shoreline between Horseshoe Bar and Rattlesnake Bar contains more sections of the NFD’s structure than any other place I’ve explored thus far.

Concrete remnant at Avery’s Pond, Rattlesnake Bar, April 2016

In the early 1910s it was determined that the North Fork Ditch was losing a substantial amount of water to leakage through the earth-lined canal. A program was put in place to line the entire ditch with concrete. It is the concrete lining that can be seen today when the lake is low — Kevin Knauss in Hidden History Beneath Folsom Lake

Long sections of the NFD now exist as a dirt trail

El Dorado Hills lies in the distance


  1. Thank you very much for posting this! I have lots of pictures similar to these from different parts of Folsom Lake so I will be sharing them too. Over the last year I have been exploring the ditches on both sides of the South Fork of the American River. I’m really surprised how many miles these ditches stetch!

    • I’d love to see what you find out there! There’s so much history that was erased when they built Folsom Lake that it makes finding bits and pieces like a treasure hunt. One thing that always amazes me about the ditches is that they were all gravity fed — no pumps anywhere.

      • That’s right, no pumps. I found something very interesting the last few times I have been to Beeks Bight. There is a metal thing out of the ground attached to a pipe that was under the ground and it looks like it was used to blast water but I’m not sure it was related to the Gold Rush era because it is stationary and has some fairly new looking parts on it. I will be posting more pictures on my blog in the coming weeks. I have some videos about different parts history under Folsom Lake on my YouTube channel “Steve Sacramento”. Most recently the Salmon Falls Bridge. Do you have a YouTube channel?

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