Folsom Celebrates 100th Anniversary of the Rainbow Bridge

 The Folsom community is coming together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the iconic Rainbow Bridge that opened on February 10, 1919.

The bridge was originally built to address the growing need for automobile transportation across the American River. An outstanding level of aesthetics was incorporated into the bridge design, and the soaring concrete arches helped make Rainbow Bridge one of Folsom’s signature landmarks. Now, more than 25,000 vehicles cross the century-old bridge daily.  

The centennial celebration begins on Sunday, February 10, with a variety of special promotions, events, and activities taking place over the 100 days leading up to the main day-long celebration on Saturday, May 4 in Historic Folsom.

Community-wide promotions and activities include:

 

  • The Gallery at 48 Natoma features a Rainbow Bridge exhibit by the Folsom Arts Association, with a variety of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and mixed media that highlight the iconic image of the bridge as interpreted by 38 local artists. The exhibit is on display through March 1.
  • The Folsom Public Library presents “Rainbow Bridge: from Construction to Centennial” featuring  an overview of the bridge’s rich history presented by local author Roberta Long and Richard Liptak, President of Dokken Engineering. The presentation takes place at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 1.
  • Four Folsom schools and several local engineering firms will participate in a Rainbow Bridge design contest. Students will build model structures and engineers will test the load capacity to determine the winner. Judging will take place during the special event planned for Saturday, May 4.
  • Historic walking tours of the bridge will take place in May.
  • The Folsom History Museum will feature a Rainbow Bridge exhibit in April and May and feature commemorative merchandise in the gift store. Children can participate in special Rainbow Bridge activities in the Folsom History Museum garden May 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Folsom businesses and Historic District merchants offer a variety of special promotions, including:

  • Anita Rochelle’s (formerly the Bag Lady): Rainbow Bridge artwork featured in the boutique.
  • Artfully Rooted: 10 percent off antiques 100 years or older.
  • Citizen Vine: Rainbow Bridge bubbles flight for $10 for 100 days.
  • Dorothea’s Shoppe: Commemorative Rainbow Bridge centennial ornaments for purchase.
  • Enchanted Closet by Three Peas and Me: Rainbow Bridge centennial logo items for sale.
  • Firehouse Boutique: Mention the Rainbow Bridge anniversary and receive a $20 gift certificate through Saturday, May 4.
  • Game Getaway: Discounted game play Saturday, May 4.
  • La Vintage Pink Door: $10 Rainbow Bridge charm bracelets and a free sticker with purchase.  
  • Melange: “Over the Rainbow Bridge” party on Saturday, March 30 featuring a custom Rainbow Bridge shop by Three Bridges Soap Works, and 10 percent off storewide.
  • Naturiffic: 15 percent off an order by mentioning the 100th anniversary of Rainbow Bridge. 
  • Not Too Shabby: Create a unique image of the iconic Rainbow Bridge in a special art class on Saturday, May 4.
  • Painted Cork Paint and Sip Art Studio: Discounted Rainbow Bridge painting classes.
  • Rainbow Bridge Jewelers: Centennial Rainbow Bridge pendant available for purchase.
  • Red Bus Brewing Company: 100th anniversary Rainbow Bridge brew.
  • Snooks Candies: Rainbow Bridge custom 4-piece printed chocolate box at 15 percent off.
  • Tre Salon and Spa: 100-minute massages for $100.

For additional local business promotions and offers, visit https://folsomrainbowbridge.com.

Commemorative posters and prints of the original bridge designs are available free-of-charge at Folsom City Hall (50 Natoma Street, Folsom) and the Greater Folsom Partnership office (200 Wool Street, Folsom). Digital versions are available at https://folsomrainbowbridge.com/media.  Banners have been installed throughout Historic Folsom.

Community members are encouraged to share Rainbow Bridge memories and photos using hashtags #FolsomRainbowBridge100 or #FolsomRainbowBridge💯on social media. 


Stay informed about Rainbow Bridge events and promotions at www.folsomrainbowbridge.com.

History of the Rainbow Bridge

In 1918, when Rainbow Bridge was going up amid granite outcroppings, The Folsom Telegraph described the structure as rising apparently out of solid rocks. Standing strong 100 years later, this iconic Folsom bridge has served as a symbol of strength for the City of Folsom.

Sacramento County had big plans for Rainbow Bridge when it opened it 1919. The graceful structure with its distinctive concrete arch was to be the final link in a “40-mile loop through some of the richest agricultural lands in the state.” County officials predicted the pastoral drive between Sacramento and Folsom “was destined to become famous” as a tourist attraction. The route followed Greenback Lane on the north and Folsom Boulevard on the south. Those roads no longer lure sightseers, but Rainbow Bridge is still one of the most photographed spots on the American River.

When it was built, the concrete arch of Rainbow Bridge was the fourth-largest concrete arch span in the world. The open-spandrel arch, with cutouts between the arch and the roadway, was a popular design in the early 1900s made possible by strengthening concrete with reinforcing steel.

In 1927, the Rainbow Bridge became part of the Lincoln Highway when the highway was realigned to cross the bridge at Greenback Lane. The Lincoln Highway was the first coast-to-coast route in the United States. It divided in Nevada to circle Lake Tahoe–roughly following today’s Highway 50 and Interstate 80 to rejoin at Sacramento. At the end of 1927 the federal government numbered all the highways, replacing the name Lincoln Highway.

When it opened in 1919, Rainbow Bridge was officially known as the American River Bridge at Folsom and informally called simply “the bridge.” In the early 1950s, a Folsom resident suggested to a Sutter Street shopkeeper that the more descriptive designation be used on postcards. The name immediately took hold, and the picturesque crossing, with its rainbow-shaped arches, has been Rainbow Bridge ever since.