The Salton Sea


If you ever just want to get away from it all (the city, the people, the traffic, the noise) and rather immerse yourself in total dilapidation and desolation, then the Salton Sea is definitely a spot worth checking out.

If you ever just want to get away from it all (the city, the people, the traffic, the noise) and rather immerse yourself in total dilapidation and desolation, then the Salton Sea is definitely a spot worth checking out.

The Sea is California’s largest inland lake and was created by accident nearly a century ago. A small community popped up around it in the late 1940s and early 1950s and it was supposed to be the new vacation hotspot for people looking to get out of the city (basically it was supposed to be the new Palm Springs). Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans and berated the Sea with substantial environmental problems, eventually making the water unbearably saline and killing off most of the fish and birds that made contact with the water. Along with unstable water levels and a multitude of floods, most of the residents began to move but left what they had built around the sea intact. Now nearly 50 years later the Salton Sea is almost like a living (well, dead i suppose) museum, its shores dotted with decaying houses, beaches line with the skeletons of hundreds of fish, and even a full hotel boarded up and forgotten.

Despite this however there still remains a small community in the area, often living next store to houses that have not been occupied since the 50s. You’d think that living in such a desolate place would toughen them up and make them cold to outsiders roaming through their neighborhood, but in reality they’re some of the nicest people in the world. If you’re lucky enough to be able to talk to one of them (especially one of the older residents) they’ll more then likely go on about how its unfortunate that so many people left and tell you all about what’s so great about the area. And they’re definitely used to people roaming around taking pictures, so seeing someone with a camera in hand doesn’t seem to bother them at all. If anything it gives them more incentive to talk to you, sometime recommending where there is a good spot to take pictures.

One notable roadside landmark that is definitely a must to check out lies just outside of Niland on the southeastern tip of the Sea: Salvation Mountain. In reality it’s a hill, but a man named Leonard has been painting it continually for the past 20 or so years. His message is obvious: God Is Love. Salvation Mountain is dotted with passages from scripture and other religious icons, and topped with a giant wooden cross at its summit. But if you’re not big on religion or preaching, don’t let that deter you. Leonard has no desire to convert you or berate you with messages of ecclesiastical intolerance. If you’re lucky enough to visit while he is there (which most of the time his is), he’d be thrilled to give you a tour of the place, including the museum he is still building next to the Mountain. He’ll tell you all about the history of the place and why he feels compelled to devote his life to this endeavor. His tour in reality is a sermon on love and tolerance and hope.

written by lomocore on 2008-07-10 #places #ruins #location #beach #salton-city


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  1. champi
    champi ·

    Wow that place is awesome!! This painted hill is crazy... And I'd definitely come with my bike to ride this empty swiming pool!! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. bear1973
    bear1973 ·

    Was part of the Sean Penn directed movie "Into The Wild" shot here. I recognise Salvation Mountain and seem to remember seeing it in the movie. Maybe I'm wrong but can someone enlighten me.

  3. grenoouille
    grenoouille ·

    @ bear1973: Well spotted!
    Check this out:

  4. azurblue
    azurblue ·

    Perfect place for lomographers !

    Great pics !

  5. typed_for_miles
    typed_for_miles ·

    I live about 30 miles away from Salvation Mountain and finally visited it this past April. Need to develop some Lomos I took there. Very great place to take pictures. :D

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