Local ‘Lincoln’ hangs up his top hat

       After 30 years, Merell Folsom is hanging up his black top hat.

Abe (left) and Folsom as Abe
Westside Pioneer photo

       His beard's not going anywhere. He'd just let it grow longer when he portrayed Abraham Lincoln at schools or the annual Family Fourth at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.
       The last time Folsom dressed up as Honest Abe was Feb. 12, on the famous president's 201st birthday. But that was the finale. “It's past his 200th birthday, I'm reaching my 80th, and I'm just not as impressive anymore,” said Folsom. Half-jokingly, he pointed out that he's two inches shorter now than when he first took on the volunteer role while still a teacher at Cheyenne Mountain High School. “I may look tall next to a third-grader, but when the Confederate soldiers [during the Rock Ledge event] are taller than me, that's not right.”
       The similarity in appearance between Folsom and Lincoln has always been remarked on. That's why Elizabeth Barber, lead interpreter at Rock Ledge, decided not to enlist another volunteer to replace him for this year's Family Fourth. People might not like it “if he didn't look the part,” she said.
       Not that the ranch didn't try to bring Folsom back. “We tried everything we could think of,” Barber said this week.
       Folsom said he had announced his retirement after last year's Fourth. Nonetheless, he appears as Lincoln in the ranch's 2010 brochure (with a description of the Family Fourth) as well as in a recent ranch flyer announcing July events.
       ”Either they didn't listen or they didn't believe me,” Folsom said.

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