This adventure takes us to the Salton Sea (and surrounding area), unlike our previous post “ The Lost Park”, is not entirely abandoned. As you drive through you may question why it is not but there are residents and the history behind this place is quite interesting.
The Salton Sea lake was created by the Colorado River busting through diversion canals in the early 1900’s. There were several structures and businesses that were flooded. One such business was the Liverpool Salt Works. Its demise left 1,000 acres of salt 15” deep in the lake. Annually 600 tons more salt is added to the lake by irrigation run off from the Colorado.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s this place was booming. Celebrities, families, and tourists came to the "miracle in the desert" to go boating, fishing, and have a good time. Real estate was crazy and it was “the” place to be in the desert. However, all of that came to a screeching halt in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Water run off from local farms polluted the lake and in the 80’s the housing bubble forced many to literally just abandon their homes.
Supposedly the 2000’s brought a few more folks into the “was” paradise but it was short lived due to the downturn in the economy after 9/11 (and continued pollution).
It is hard to believe as you travel around this place that it was such a “go to” place back in the day. Today it is half abandoned, it smells of dead fish (which due to the high salt content are still on the beach), and the sand is not really sand. It looks to be died off barnacles. If you want to learn more about the history of the area I found a book here (http://www.greetingsfromsaltonsea.com/saltoncity.html) that seemed to cover it pretty well.
Slab city was a WWII Marine base. After the war the military pulled up, tore down the buildings, and left the concrete foundations (slabs) in place. With no working electricity or running water this place (surprisingly) has around 150 full time residence. I’ve seen this placed referred to as the “Last free place in America”. People literally pull up and just seem to plant themselves here. No mortgage, taxes, or mail delivery (that I could tell). This is not a “comfortable” place to live. The day we were there it was 107 degrees and the temps often get up to 120 degrees during the summer. The area is covered in various forms of art and graffiti and right down the road from Salvation Mountain.
Salvation Mountain is the creation of Leonard Knight (who passed away in 2014). It is a mound of dirt (referred to as mountain) covered in a bunch of murals that focus on Bible versus and Christian concepts. 1000’s of gallons of non-toxic paint were used to help create this attraction. It is nothing if not interesting.