The Salton Sea itself is an inland saline lake whose salt concentration is higher than that of most of the world’s oceans.It also happens to be the largest lake in California, with its deepest point of 51 feet lying only 5 feet higher than the deepest point of Death Valley.In 1905, heavy snowfall and rain caused the Colorado River to extend and break off into a dike flowing into the Imperial Valley. The sudden rise in water, and its lack of drainage, resulted in the formation of the Salton Sea.
There are many myths about the Salton Sea, the most prevalent of which is that it is highly toxic and polluted. Though the massive death of fish every summer fuels the rumors, it turns out that the culprit is actually a combination of the area’s high temperatures and the sea's high salinity level. Together, they cause a massive depletion in the oxygen level that ultimately suffocate the fish. A second rumor surrounding the Salton Sea is that it’s dying. This one is actually true. Each year, the sea becomes progressively saltier, eventually leading to a point where it will completely stop supporting life. In the 1950s, the Salton Sea was a very popular tourist destination attracting visitors from around the country to enjoy the great fishing and water skiing. Significant sums of money were invested into the area to develop resorts, spas, and other facilities. Unfortunately, a series of reoccurring storms and flooding in the 1970s took a toll on the resort. As salinity rose, wildlife began dying off, and people got scared. Eventually, they stopped coming altogether. The Salton Sea faded from memory leaving Palm Springs to become the popular new desert oasis.
Today, the scattered ruins throughout the area serve as a testament to the once glorious days of the Salton Sea. The town of Niland once served as the gateway to the mighty Imperial Valley, with a train station that brought visitors from far and wide. In its hey day, Niland was also hailed as the tomato capital of the world, though a visit to the town these days reveals a community that serves more as an interesting relic of the past than an agricultural giant.
Salvation Mountain is the wonderful and visually stimulating creation of Leonard Knight. He is an incredibly warm and friendly man who personally welcomes each and every visitor as they come from near and far to witness his life' s work. He gave us an amazing tour of the mountain and the surrounding area, carefully drawing our attention to incredible details such as his pair of soaring blue birds that flew high above our heads. He built and maintained the mountain for over 25 years, and shares with each visitor a single message: God loves everyone! The numerous other machinery and vehicle creations serve as free-standing works of art whose colorful coats of paint capture the imagination.
Slab City got its name from the concrete slabs and pylons that remain from the abandoned World War II Marine Corps base called Camp Dunlap. In 1956, the base was dismantled and decommissioned, leaving platforms of concrete that have become home to a community of outgoing, eccentric, and welcoming people. Though some of the residents boast a strong desire to be freed from the U.S. government, many more of the community residents are simply RV owners who enjoy the campsites. The Slab City stage area has become affectionately known as “The Range,” which hosted eclectic array of performers at the annual talent show held every January.
Finally, I saw these amazing little natural creations called the “Mud Volcanoes”. These mud pots and sputtering mud volcanoes are caused by ground water seeping through the earth into an underground layer of limestone, which dissolves and produces, among other things, carbon dioxide gas that fires upward toward the sky—producing mountains of mud that hiss and bubble and spurt mud.
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