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Folsom Prison Nature Trail Pays Tribute To Johnny Cash

FOLSOM (KPIX 5) -- If you've ever heard of the town of Folsom, or the state prison there, you probably have one man to thank for it – Johnny Cash.  And now, a nature trail will pay tribute to the singer on the grounds of the prison that helped make him famous.

In 1968, singer Johnny Cash resurrected a stalled music career when he released a live album recorded in the Folsom State Prison cafeteria.  Cash's iconic song "Folsom Prison Blues" put the prison, and the town on the map.

People in the area have loved "the man in black" ever since.

"Folsom, California?  Folsom Prison?  Johnny Cash!  You hear that as a Folsom resident all the time," Parks and Recreation Director for the city of Folsom Robert Goss told KPIX 5.

So, when the city began building a brand new hiking and bike trail on land winding past the prison property, it made sense to name it after a man who often sang about straying from the straight and narrow.

"He's had a significant impact on this city.  'Folsom Prison Blues,' you can't argue with the notoriety of that song," Goss said.

But Folsom isn't stopping there. Along with a pedestrian bridge that mirrors the look of the prison's granite walls, the city is spending $8 million on public art along the trail to celebrate the life and career of their adopted prodigal son.  Below the trail will be a 3-acre park in the design of Cash's favorite guitar with a fifty-foot-high statue of the singer looking toward the prison.

"This is something to celebrate.  We have this in common with Johnny Cash and his family, so we intend to celebrate it," Goss said.

The town, the prison, even Johnny's family have all joined together to help with the project.

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