It’s called the Salton Sea. It’s the largest body water in California. And it’s not even supposed to be there. At the turn of the last century, an engineering screw up of epic proportions diverted the Colorado River into one of the lowest, hottest land basins in the United States. It took two years to stem the tide and when the flooding finally stopped, 350 square miles of desert lay underwater. Everyone assumed the giant inland sea they had created by accident would just dry up. But when it didn’t, real estate developers tried to turn an ecological disaster into an opportunity.
For a while it really did seem like a miracle. Tourists flocked to a place that had once been unforgiving desert. People bought homes, built schools, restaurants, yacht clubs.
But then the sea turned on them. Over the years, it’s water, fed only by agricultural runoff, became saltier than the ocean. Botulism poisoning killed millions of fish and massive die offs during the height of 120 degrees summers, made the air almost unbreathable. The sea began to flood unpredictably. Tourists fled. Boomtowns turned ghost towns.
Today, what remains is a landscape out of science-fiction. Streets, every one of them named, still waiting for neighborhoods that never arrived. Beaches, made not of shell or sand, but of the pulverized skeletons of uncountable millions of fish. Houses half tumbled into toxic looking pits. An old army base, its land made uninhabitable by unexploded bombs. Ominous warnings painted on walls.
Is this strange place a tragic failure? Or a sort of post apocalyptic wonderland? (x)