Media Life: Folsom walks the line for Johnny Cash

Auburn neighbor goes big with sculptures, park
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Gus Thomson can be reached at

(530) 852-0232 or

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Big things are happening at the other end of Auburn Folsom Road.

Folsom, Auburn’s prisoncentric neighbor to the south, is moving ahead with more artful components of what is becoming a world-class tribute to singer Johnny Cash.

The tribute is rooted in Cash’s spine-chilling performances in 1968 at Folsom State Prison and the ensuing classic LP “Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison.”

Cash, who made the then-sleepy town of Folsom famous in 1955 with the song “Folsom Prison Blues,” is getting the superstar treatment with a just-approved Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience.

The new project on the city’s Johnny Cash Trail will include eight pieces of artwork and a three-acre park honoring the “Man in Black.”

The lineup includes a 40-foot-tall “Man in Black” three-dimensional sculpture placed atop a 10-foot granite base at the soon-to-be-built three-acre Johnny Cash Legacy Park, at the corner of East Natoma Street and Folsom Lake Crossing.

The park itself will incorporate interpretive and educational elements about Cash, his band the Tennessee Three and the “At Folsom Prison” album. The park will connect to the Johnny Cash Trail and Bike-Pedestrian Overcrossing.

The overcrossing, which mimics the old prison’s ominous Victorian architecture, was built by Newcastle’s Westcon Construction and opened last year.

And in case you’re wondering if the Cash clan is buying into the whole park and trail shebang, the answer is a wholehearted, basso profundo ‘yes.’ Concepts for the public art component were vetted with Cindy Cash, one of Johnny Cash’s five children. Another of his daughters, Rosanne Cash, was there for the overcrossing dedication last October. The latest round of work is expected to be ready by 2017.

Stars on sidewalks

While some may argue that the choices of late for inclusion in Auburn’s “Walk of Fame” in Downtown Auburn may be based more on emotion than historic significance – perhaps a 10-year waiting period after someone dies may be a good addition to the selection criteria – there’s no disagreement that it’s a popular spot to get some grounding in what makes Auburn so great.

Perhaps the Sacramento movers and shakers could take a drive up Interstate 80 for some inspiration rather than look toward Hollywood for its blandly derivative “Walk of Stars” idea.

Given much ballyhoo this week at a Sacramento City Council meeting, the project will result in sidewalks along J, K and L streets filling with stars similar to the ones adorning Hollywood Boulevard. The “Walk of Stars” promises to allow notables – who have $5,000 in financing from supporters, relatives, fans or a publicist or two – to have their name ensconced in treadworthy splendor. The short list of candidates already includes baseball almost-Hall of Famer Dusty Baker, artist Gregory Kondos and rap-metalloids Papa Roach.

Auburn already has a head start on this one, although someone may want to right a wrong and change the 1959 Auburn Little League team’s carved inscription to take out the word “West.” The team was never known as the West Auburn team. As Little League World Series followers know, Auburn was the team that represented the Western U.S. and was designated that way in the World Series final game that year. There was no West Auburn Little League team.   

Taking stock

With U.S. stock markets stepping onto its latest white-knuckle ride, news networks are again turning to Kimberly Foss, Placer High Class of 1980, to put things in perspective.

Foss, president of Placer County based Empyrion Wealth Management, appeared this week on FOX Business’ “After the Bell” to discuss the volatile stock market and the impact that China has on the market and investment opportunities.

It’s been a little bit nauseating for investors to deal with drops of recent days, Foss said. But Wednesday’s upswing – followed by another big increase Thursday – were encouraging, she said.

Empyrion has been seeing the swing south as an opportunity to buy into suddenly-lower-priced investments both in large and small cap stocks, Foss said. And investor dollars are also taking a small foray into emerging markets, she said.

Foss, whose appearances have in recent months have included observations on NBC’s “Good Morning America” and CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” continues to provide expert with some small-town smarts nurtured in Auburn to a national audience.

The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at (530) 852-0232 or Or catch Thomson tweeting @AJ_Media_Life.