The apocalypse came here early

There is a place where beaches are made not of sand, but of the skeletons of millions of fish.
Luxury yacht clubs are now frequented only by pigeons, vacation homes lie open to the elements and RV camp grounds look more like burial grounds.  Not 60miles from the fresh golf courses and glitzy hotels of Palm Springs in California, lies the shell of

Salton city

a once-blooming resort town.  From a distance, like a “mirage in the desert”, SALTON RIVIERA still appears to be a beautiful place, but close up, it is a foul and feculent place.

The town conceived as a resort paradise, in the 60s and 70s, for boaters, water skiers and vacationers, the SALTON SEASIDE was once called the next PALM SPRINGS, hailed as the AMERICAN RIVIERA and a “miracle in the desert”.  Vacation homes popped up like cactus blossoms, holidaymakers flooded the beaches and yacht clubs served martinis with views of the sunset.
 The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California.  Its existence is also a total accident.  In 1905, flooding caused the Colorado River to spill over the man-made irrigation canals to pour into what was then known as the SALTON SINK ——— 40mls of pure desert.  It took two years to stop the flooding, by which time the largest lake in California had formed.  Half a century later and this desert land had become a holiday paradise.  The town’s population grew to 15,000 people, with 1000s more arriving on weekends.  But the paradise would not last.

Salton city abandones

What happened to this lush oasis, that it stands “eerily silent” as an empty wasteland of foul smells, abandoned homes and acres of dead fish ?  Disaster struck in the 1970s, when masses of fish died and floated to the surface.  What was killing the 1000s of fish was quickly identified as “agricultural runoff” from local farms into the Salton Sea.  The lake didn’t have enough drainage and had no ecosystems to refresh itself.

Salton City postcard

People stopped coming to the Salton Sea.  Vacation homes were abandoned, resort developments stopped in mid construction.  RVs, boats, spas and yacht clubs were all left behind.  Today, where 1000s once lived and played, only a few 100s remain in each of the tiny shore-side communities surrounded by the ruins of vacation homes.  Decades after being abandoned, the effects of water, sun and salt are clear.


The RV power hook-ups, throughout the camping sites, are like tombstones to the dead camp ground.  What looks to be like an old airstream trailer has been exposed to the environment for up to 40-50years.  As soon as a window broke or a crack opened, the environment entered the trailer and it became food for the environment.  Like the people, dribbling away from the toxic sea, the structural elements slowly disappeared from homes.

Salton Sea Photography

Buildings still have some structural frames in place, but there’s not much left.  Most of the recognizable materials will soon be buried deep beneath the Salton sands.  On any given day, you can wander around Salton City without seeing another soul.


Over the years, plans to revitalize the area and rebuild a town to inhabit up to 40,000 were proposed and even approved by government officials, despite the obvious environmental dangers.  But more years passed and the once-glamorous Riviera still remains as an “eerily silent and doomed wasteland”. ———— Ultimately, Salton City will probably go back to being the desert land it once was  ———– WITH A LOT OF GARBAGE ON IT.


5 thoughts on “The apocalypse came here early

  1. “On any given day, you can wander around Salton City without seeing another soul.” Absolutely not true! We see many people throughout the day in the Salton City and Vista Del Mar neighborhoods. It is NOT all death and destruction at the Salton Sea. There is much beauty, just open your eyes.

    • Dear Jasmyn, these inputs were taken from some news sites. Apologies if some of the stuff is exaggerated (like news media usually is). If you stay around there, why don’t we post some images to negate this perception? I would be very interested to know how this place is…

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