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Bombay Beach, CA - The Lowest City in America

Salton Sea Landscape Photographs From 223 ft Below Sea Level

In terms of area covered, many Californians (not just those featured in “The Californians” from Saturday Night Live) would be surprised to find out the largest lake in our state is not Lake Tahoe.  About an hour south of Palm Desert, CA you will find the Salton Sea.

 

The surface is approximately 226 ft below sea level, and the deepest point is 5 ft higher than the lowest point of Death Valley. This makes it one of the lowest spots on the planet. The Colorado River created the Salton Sea in 1905 due to flooding. For about two years after the canal gates crashed, water continued pouring in.

  Since its inception in 1905, the Salton Sea has had more than its fair share of drama. A new lake of that size causes issues both good and bad for residents, farmers, wildlife, railway, water supplies, etc.  In the 1950’s, some resort areas were successful. The images seen here are from Bombay Beach, created in April 2013.

 

Much of the resort town of infrastructure surrounding the lake has been devastated over the past decades from continuous changes in water levels. Images created even just a few years prior look very different from what can be seen today.

 

Bombay Beach sunrise in the marina, is where many of the images of the abandoned buildings were created. The structures appear to be quickly dissolving into the terrain. The remaining residents live a block away from the marina, separated by a berm. It’s a strange feeling standing on the berm as the day begins. On one side you have a ghost town, on the other side about 30 yards away a dwindling city in limbo. There is silence, then daybreak comes and you hear dogs start to bark in the distance. A few cars start up and head off to work, a handful of locals out on their morning walk.

 

There is something unique about sunrise in the desert, the morning light brings out beauty in almost anything. A big thanks to my Dad and 7 year old daughter for waking up way too early on their vacations to join me.

Jordan Reeder