From Vibrant Resort to Post Apocalyptic Wasteland
The Salton Sea is the most mysterious and unusual place I have ever visited. And one of my favorite places to visit. It is a lake in a desolate desert located between Palm Springs and the Mexican border. It is only five feet higher than the lowest point in Death Valley. Abandoned and partially destroyed mobile homes, a tire in the water, desiccated fish bones, and a lone chair are just some of the objects lying around. It makes you wonder what happened here.
This former resort town reached its zenith during the early 1960’s, when it was jam-packed with weekend revelers from nearby L.A. and San Diego. Today, the few people who remain are resilient iconoclastic, survivalist and loner types seeking seclusion and a low-cost abode to call home.
In the 1920’s, the Salton Sea had become a popular vacation destination in California. But the sea was becoming contaminated and by the 1960’s, the smell alone was enough to warrant a mass exodus. Today, Bombay Beach is a sun-bleached, tarnished, abandoned wasteland.
The Zenith. In 1905, the Colorado River swelled, breached its levees, and flooded the desert. The fish flourished and the Salton Sea quickly became a fisherman’s paradise. The sea also became a new stopover point for migratory birds.
Once air-conditioning made the deserts livable to more people, it didn’t take long for entrepreneurs to discern the Salton Sea’s potential. Seeing the explosive growth of nearby Palm Springs, developers envisioned the Salton Sea as a “desert Lake Tahoe” and branded it the “Salton Riviera”. Hotels, million dollar yacht clubs, and homes sprung up over night. How did the Salton Sea become a near ghost town? Why should we care? Find out in Part II of the Bombay Beach – Salton Sea Series.
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