Filled with Hope (A Photo Journal)

“Mom, my boots are waterproof so no mud will seep through,” my son said from the back seat of the car.

“My shoes are full of holes,” Dad offered.

“I know of some great, cheap shoes from Costco. We’ll get you some tomorrow,” I said, trying to console.

“A lot of good that does me now,” said Dad.

“I know, we can burn your shoes in a fire pit,” my son cheered along side his little brother.

“Maybe we can find a fire pit at the bottom of the lake,” said my younger son.

“I’m going to look for pennies. Legendary pennies worth millions of dollars that will pay for my college education,” said the oldest.

“Yeah, yeah,” little brother said. “A million dollars!”

“Maybe we should look for shoes, too,” I said.

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Just outside of Sacramento, California, Folsom Lake is more mud than water. Boats no longer dock in the marina now.

I see boats on them thar hills. They once made quite a picturesque scene here on the docks where the geese swam and floated by. Geese rule these parts now and will roam wherever they please. Thank you very much.

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What does a lake that is at 17% capacity look like? This was our first glimpse of it.

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I know. Gasp. Yes, this used to be water. Or was that just a dream?

People and cars fill the lake now.

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And porta-potties. Now more than ever, Folsom Lake is a popular place to visit. It’s an event.

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It’s not just the mind-blowing desolation or perhaps the prospect of walking inside a lake. Perhaps that’s as close to walking on water as we can ever experience.

As it turns out, what was submerged under water is now exposed.

Tree stumps:

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Tires:

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My family inside a tire inside a lake:

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My son surfing on rusty remnants:

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Buoys stripped of their purpose. With water, this would float to the top.

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This lake is also filled with history.

The biggest fascination for the masses is the resurfacing of “The Ruins,” a Gold Rush Ghost Town. That town was Mormon Island. In 1955, the town flooded after Folsom Dam was built. Here is what’s left.

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A docent in Little House on the Prairie attire hurried by us on her way to the airport. She mentioned she’d be back next weekend to give “tours” and answer any questions. A little digging of my own revealed that this bustling Gold Rush town once supported more than 2,500 residents, a school, a winery, a dairy, four hotels, and seven saloons.

Perhaps this was one such saloon.

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The rest of the town is still submerged, somewhere out there.

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Had we uncovered any legendary pennies, they would have remained at the lake bed to preserve this historical site.

Rusty nails, debris, shells of broken bottles are collected and stacked as treasures.

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The concrete covers what was once a well.

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We left with plenty of mud on our shoes and our socks and

…with a lot of luck…and a lot of hope…

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for the water’s return…because hope is a good thing.

Folsom Lake when full with marina in the foreground. Image Credit: www.discovergold.org
Folsom Lake at normal levels with marina in the foreground. Image Credit: www.discovergold.org

On January 17, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in California. 

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Related Video:
Drought Exposes Ghost Gold Rush Town in Dry Lake Bed – Folsom

Related Article:
Governor Brown Declares Drought State of Emergency

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56 thoughts on “Filled with Hope (A Photo Journal)

    1. It is kind of a strange, mystical feeling digging up the past. Fascinating but so so sad and scary. They just declared a state of emergency. Not sure why it was in the eleventh hour, probably because water is such a political issue, too.

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  1. I have to agree with Vanessa. I was filled with awe reading this, but also felt a tinge of sadness at the same time. California is so dry, and each time I go back I notice how much drier it becomes. Some of the places I frequented as a child don’t look the same anymore.

    Really interesting read!

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    1. So sad, Jen. It was so shocking to see it. I had seen pictures of it before going, and was still so shocked being there. California seems to be a lot drier with each passing year. I’ve lived here all of my life, mostly, and remember having winters. The weather here has been beautiful like spring. It’s easily to be oblivious to the water crisis. But seeing Folsom Lake kind of changed all that. We need some of your Oregon rain. Send it down please. Thanks!

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    1. I am very sad, too. I’d rather the ruins stay in the water! It’s like this “fun” event, but make no mistake about it, people are worried about the low levels. It hasn’t been this bad since the seventies. Thanks!

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  2. You can get anything at Costco! Even a free lunch. But I hate going in there. I’ll go in for a few dry goods and end up spending $350 on crap I didn’t know I needed. In vast quantities, no less.

    Good thing we’ve blasted a gigantic hole in the ozone layer, otherwise we would have these interesting weather conditions. The Ruins look like the London Wall. Except not as ancient.

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    1. Beware of Costco. It’s true you end up buying stuff you don’t need and don’t even want by the time you get home. It’s those samples!! Have you noticed they never as good as when they are int the store? Secretly, I still like Costco. I just try not to go too often just buying the stuff I like there.

      Let’s hope this isn’t just the beginning of worse things to come or if this becomes the new normal. I suppose it already is. Who am I fooling? People are doing rain dances around here. Rain already! The ruins are interesting because they are “Ruins” but really don’t look like too much. Still a slice of history. Just the thought of it, I think…

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      1. The last time I was in Costco I walked out with a giant plastic jar full of dark chocolate covered almonds. For cheap! It was one of my happiest moments ever, and that includes the birth of both daughters AND my wedding day.

        I’ve been reading about your water woes. Here on the Right Coast we have sub-zero chill factors and SNOW. It’ll be like this for the next 10 days. Australia is in the middle of a crippling heatwave. What’s up?

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      2. Ha ha! I love their nuts. They have so many varieties, but I’ve never had the dark chocolate covered almonds. Yum! How did I miss those. That’s pretty high on your list! I will be looking for those next time. I like a lot of their snake items and you can’t find them anywhere else, at least I don’t think you can.

        Are we the Left Coast or the Wrong Coast? Wow that’s crazy!! We have it so good with this weather, but now we’re in a drought and if things don’t improve, the summer could be wicked. And produce will go up big time! Yeah, what’s up? Couldn’t be that global warming trend, could it?

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      3. You MUST try the dark chocolate almonds. Years ago, after I finished off my very first giant plastic tub of them, I walked across the street to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and lit a votive candle in thanks.

        With those dried out lakes, it doesn’t look like you have it THAT good!

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    1. I know. It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s really a beautiful lake “reservoir.” I used to think of it as a little ocean since I’m inland. I used to pretend that when I drove past it. Not right now, Michelle! It’s very sad and eerie as you say. They have emergency drought conditions in place, but really we need a lot of rain. We also rely on snow pack and right now the mountains are brown! We need some of your Canadian snow.

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  3. That’s sad but also fascinating (I know I mirrored Vanessa’s comment, but it’s true). But what a perfect place to visit with kids. That might even spark interest in my eye-rolling oldest. Thanks for letting us share in your adventure. Very cool (but still, very sad).

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    1. It is fascinating. Let’s face, how often do you get to see the bottom of a lake. But oh, very worrisome and sad! The kids loved it but there was a lot of walking involved because it’s so big. We definitely need a change in our beautiful weather. I read in the paper today that people are doing rain dances. Now we have a state of emergency, so people are waking up. I think they waited far too long to declare one.

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  4. It’s just down right scary that this might be our future all over the place. Interesting digging up history, but sometimes it’s best not to disturb the ghosts. Wonderful post Amy.

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    1. Thanks, Pixie Girl. Doesn’t it though? I guess that’s why I wanted the photos to dominate this post. Words can’t really express this sad emptiness. Thanks, me too! Thanks for stopping by. I plan to read your blog soon! – Amy

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  5. Wow – great photos. It really does tell the story. I have always wondered what you would find in an empty lake. I used to hunt for ‘treasures’ as a little girl wherever I went and this kind of thing would fascinate me!

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    1. Thank you and thanks for reading. It was really fascinating and sad, too. It was so shocking that the water is so low. But I suppose we shall enjoy the history while we have it. Hopefully, it will be back under water soon.

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    1. It hasn’t been this low since the 1970’s! So we are in a drought for sure. It’s fascinating to see history, but it can go back under water now. It’s hasn’t rained in more than 45 days and we have record highs (almost 80 degrees F). So…let the rain come down.

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