William Henry Carman Folsom arrived at the St. Croix River, in what would soon become the Minnesota Territory, in 1846 at age 29. Since the age of 15, when he left his home and family in Maine, the young adventurer had worked his way west as a farm laborer, logger and lumber camp cook, and dam builder. It was the lumber business that led him to the St. Croix River Valley where he became involved in "logging and lumbering, investing in Minnesota and Wisconsin lands...opening a general merchandise store, and settling permanently...at Taylors Falls where he built a fine home, now on the National Register of Historic Sites." Folsom also invested in a variety of other enterprises, including a hotel, a lumber mill and the first bridge to span the St. Croix River. He became a respected community leader, serving as a state representative and six-term state senator. Folsom died in 1900 at his home in Taylors Falls.
Today part of the Angel Hill Historic District, the Greek Revival-Federal style home is managed for the Minnesota Historical Society by the Taylors Falls Historical Society. It is furnished with the family's original belongings, including a Hews rectangular grand piano, Folsom's vast library and clothing and other personal items. Guides tell visitors about the rich history of the Folsom family, who lived in the home for five generations, and their influence on the development of the area and the state.
The Folsom House is open from late May through mid-October daily (except Tuesdays) from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, and $1 for children ages 6-12. Special holiday tours are offered in November and December. It is located at 272 W. Government St., north of U.S. Hwy. 8, in Taylors Falls. For more information, call 651-465-3125.
Part of this material is taken from "Fifty Years in the Northwest," written and published by W.H.C. Folsom in 1888 and reprinted in a facsimile edition by the Taylors Falls Historical Society in 1999.