The Salton Sea


This topic stepped to the front of the line to talk about because it’s been in the media lately, climate change, and California’s drought are taking their toll. I haven’t seen anything in the media about whether recent storms have reversed the last four years of drought at the Salton Sea, all the reportage has been about more dramatic events – floods, dam spillways over flowing, huge snow in the Sierras.

The sea has been alternately flooded, become saline, dried up many times over in tens of thousands of years.

‘Dry lake’ is kind of an oxymoron but try to wrap your head around it anyway!

What exists now was partially created by a monstrous blunder but came to be regarded as permanent until recently. It was hoped to be a resort destination to rival Vegas, and for a while it was.

Remnants of those days remain, stark reminders of the temporary dreams.



Here’s a good map, it shows what flows into the sea, but there is no outflow, what collects slowly evaporates, which makes the lake so saline.


I quote from wikipedia:

“The most recent inflow of water from the now heavily controlled Colorado River was accidentally created by the engineers of the California Development Company in 1905. In an effort to increase water flow into the area for farming, irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. Due to fears of silt buildup, a cut was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal, and the river flowed into the Salton Basin for two years, filling the historic dry lake bed and creating the modern sea, before repairs were completed.

“The Salton Sea has been termed a “crown jewel of avian biodiversity” by Dr. Milt Friend of the Salton Sea Science Office. Over 400 species have been documented at the Salton Sea. The most diverse and probably the most significant populations of bird life in the continental United States are hosted, rivaled only by Big Bend National Park in Texas.[21] It supports 30% of the remaining population of the American white pelican.[22] The Salton Sea is also a major resting stop on the Pacific Flyway. On 18 November 2006, a Ross’s gull, a high Arctic bird, was sighted and photographed there.”

Robert Misrach made startling photographs of the place many years ago.

The sea’s future is in doubt, up for grabs, who knows what tomorrow may bring? Neither of us, No one.

“Unfortunately, little thought and few resources were devoted to the management of this accidental lake. As a terminal lake, the Salton Sea lacks any outflow, and in the late 1970s a series of heavy tropical storms caused the water level to rapidly rise and flood its banks.  The surrounding towns and businesses were severely damaged, many beyond repair, and tourism began to shift away. In the 1990s the lake began to recede dramatically, stranding many of the remaining residences and businesses, as changing water-management priorities diverted more water from agricultural areas to cities.”

A long and very interesting article:

“It’s heyday was the 50’s and 60’s, it was called “the french riviera of the west.”

Bombay Beach is the town where I took the most images, it’s a very quiet lonely place now, vacant lots for sale, roadrunners skittering across the street, dogs could nap in the middle of the streets, and live long lives. The couple of people i chatted with seemed to be castaways from society, come here to live on air, soc sec. or disability, maybe some veteran’s monthly check. A small one. They’ve checked out of society at large. Let’s hope we don’t end up here in our ‘golden years’. Or maybe not, maybe we’d like it. In one of the articles i read the current residents were quoted as saying they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

A beautiful sky reflected off the glassy lake is reason enough to stay.

1280px-salton_sea_reflectionAs for the rest of it? I dunno … only the hearty would want to stick around.

I had a lot of photo fun w/ the place.




As the Terminator most famously said “Ah’ll be back” – i second that emotion.



Abandoned – Part 3

Let’s return to a well worn but never worn out theme – ‘abandoned’.

But with a twist to it. These are all darkroom montage images i have done w/ abandoned stuff. I hope they amplify the straight shot of something abandoned, add a new layer of meaning.

Am I veering off into off-topic thoughts here? Perhaps, but that’s what blogs can be about. To quote Leslie Gore (recently departed) ‘it’s my party, and i’ll do what i want to’. Yes, indeed.

All of these are done in a traditional analog darkroom – there ain’t no digital here except for the scan.


Plenty of abandoned motels out there, aren’t there?


An abandoned car at the Wall St. Mill in Joshua Tree NP


At Bombay Beach, along the shores of the Salton Sea.


 You could still sit in this chair, and let your imagination roam.

Flip_Flops_WalkOnReady for a new owner?


No, you don’t have mail.


The next film will definitely be a western..


Welcome to the Prickly Pear Ranch.

If you like the montage work here’s a ton more:

I’ve published a few books, 2 on Amazon:

And 1 on Blurb:

A few good links for ya: