Folsom's 93

The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison's Executed Men


What to do in prison when you’re bored

Build a Ferris wheel, of course. (Warning to engineers: this may keep you up at night)

In the 1930s, Folsom inmate, Billy Burke constructed an 8 foot high Ferris wheel using over 250,000 toothpicks. The process took Burke 10 months to complete. It even turned by an electric motor. This remarkable creation is on display at the Folsom Prison Museum and is extremely fragile. It sure beats my rubber band ball I’ve got going. This Ferris wheel is only the first of many toothpick creations by Burke. You can learn more about Burke HERE.

I can imagine living in a tiny cell day in day out, can induce plenty of ennui. The days of doing what you want are over the second you become a resident behind bars. When I visited the prison, one guard told me that many of the inmates are avid readers, while others fill their time shooting hoops. If they’re able, they’ll find themselves stamping out license plates—all of which can still get old. (And forget about a cigarette break—prisoners and guards are not allowed to smoke inside the prison grounds). They can, however, have a 13″ television in their cell with 8 channels, only a few of which being “prison channels” featuring G-rated programming. Somehow, I doubt children’s television and movies rank high on their list of things to watch.

I imagine toothpicks are not allowed in the prison anymore, but I’ll bet a sugar cube castle would be alright. Then again, 3000+ inmates on a sugar high is usually not a good thing.