History At A Glance: Folsom, Land of Timber Industry

Folsom, land of vast forests enumerated with commanding trees, began around the time of 1870-1900 with homesteaders that moved into the area. At the time, the virgin forests were so dense that one could walk from Franklinton, north of Folsom, to the area of Folsom without seeing the sun. Production of timber and lumber were the prominent industries of the village during the period of 1870 through 1920.

Folsom was established in 1904 at the Alma Post Office which was located 12 miles north of Covington. Folsom received its name from the town’s founder, George Fendlason, who named the town after President Grover Cleveland’s wife, Frances Folsom Cleveland. Folsom was dedicated on May 26, 1905.

George Fendlason was the first mayor of Folsom. The Folsom Fendlason home was founded in 1904. Before the railroad came to Folsom, two lumber companies were closely associated with the timber industry in the area, Greenlaw Lumber Company and Jones and Pickett Limited. These two lumber companies were purchasing land in the Folsom area for their industries before the railroad made its way to Folsom.

Another company that played an important role in the development of Folsom’s economy was the Salmen Brick and Lumber Company that started in Slidell. Prosperity of the company increased the need for expansion northwestward in St. Tammany Parish and the brick company gained a foothold in the Folsom area.

George and Norman Fendlason were responsible for the “R.R. Avenue” to the East Louisiana Railroad Company that brought trains to Folsom. Folsom’s train depot was built in 1905 just south of the railroad’s Y-shaped turnaround. In addition to passengers, the train also brought mail to the residents of Folsom.

Large quantities of cotton and timber were shipped from Folsom by train to other areas. In 1906, The Fendlason School and First Baptist Church of Folsom was completed. In 1908, St. John’s Catholic Church opened four miles west of Folsom.

The people of Folsom were hard working farmers who etched out homesteads among the wilderness. By 1908, Folsom was a growing community with grocery stores, a drug store, a barbershop, a meat market, a cotton gin, a brick company, a debating society and an illustrious hotel called the Pine Grove. Norman Fendlason and George Fendlason were the proprietors of the largest mercantile store in Folsom. Another renowned resort, The Fendlason Hotel was the headquarters for all commercial travelers. Even though Folsom had many businesses, Folsom was a “dry” town. Liquor could not be sold in Folsom. Many Folsom residents ventured by horseback or train south to Covington to legally drink since drinking was illegal in Folsom.

Tree stumps appeared more rapidly and continued growth of the town of Folsom was halted due to the decrease of towering trees that was the force of the lumber and timber industries. Likewise, the railroad industry also ceased to exist. During this time, many families turned to farming as an economic means to survive.

By the 1950s, Folsom became a quiet community with small businesses, churches, a post office, schools and a library.

Descendants of the “railroad fever” population remained in Folsom at the turn of the 19th century. Sadly on October 25, 2012, the St. Tammany Farmer announced the death of Norman Fendlason, who was the founder of the village of Folsom.

Currently, nurseries and horse farms are prevalent in the Folsom area. The Global Wildlife Center is also located in picturesque Folsom and offers tours of wildlife to the delight of children, as well as adults.

Sources on Folsom, Louisiana
Folsom Centennial, 1904-2004. St. Tammany Farmer, June 10, 2004
The Village of Folsom, Louisiana: A Centennial Celebration by David A. Brice.