Lori Carey Photography

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Man plans, God laughs

Flooded abandoned structure near the Salton Sea, California

When I looked back at the 2012 archive for my blog I realized that I hadn't been posting nearly as much as I thought I had been. One might think I hadn't been shooting much at all, but nothing could be further from the truth. I don't know how some photographers can successfully juggle multiple social media sources...Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, 500px, Google+, personal blogs and guest blogging. I had been focusing most of my efforts on Google+ mainly because of the level of interaction there. If I tried to do all of that I'd never get anything else done! I'm still holding out hope that someone will create a Blogger plugin that functions the same way +Daniel Treadwell's Google+Blog functions with Wordpress. Seems silly that there isn't better integration between Google's own products, but right now the integration only works one way...I can share a blog post to G+ (via a link) but I can't import my G+ posts and interactions here to my blog the way Google+Blog users can. In the meantime I just need to work on finding a better system that works for me.

Anyway...one of the places I've been spending time shooting is the Salton Sea. For those who aren't familiar with the Salton Sea, it is an 'accidental' sea formed in the southeastern California desert in 1905 when the spring flood waters crashed the gates of the canal and the Colorado River filled the Salton Basin -227 miles below sea level. It took eighteen months to get the river under control and by then a sea 45 miles long and 20 miles wide was born. Marinas and resort towns popped up all along its shoreline and it soon became a major tourist destination. At one point it attracted more tourists than Yosemite. It is vital avian habitat in the middle of the harsh desert and a major stop on the Pacific Flyway. Two-thirds of the species found in the US can be seen here at the Salton Sea.

Two tropical storms in the late 1970s wiped it all out. The sea flooded the streets, the developers had already cashed out, the people all left and no one wanted to take responsibility for fixing the problem.

There is very little inflow of water (mostly agricultural runoff) and no outflow, and as the sea bakes under the hot desert sun and the shoreline recedes, the salinity rises. It is currently 50% saltier than the Pacific Ocean and continues to rise. The water has very little oxygen. Fish die off at alarming rate and instead of sand the beaches are made of dead fish bones that crunch under your feet as you walk along the shoreline. It smells really bad in the summer, not much better in the winter. No longer paradise but not fully dead...it's still a haven for birds and somehow 400 million tilapia still survive, but the people left long ago (except the ones who are escaping from society) and it won't be long before the entire ecosystem collapses. It's a post-apocalyptic no-mans-land caught up in politics and bureaucratic red tape.

The marinas and little resort towns have all been left as they were. The elements have done a lot of damage, vandals have destroyed many buildings, and the powers that be have demo'd others to get rid of the "attractive nuisance". What's left is rapidly disappearing, two buildings that were fully intact just a few months ago are now nothing more than a few standing walls, so for the past year I've been trying to cover as much ground as possible to document what's left before it is all gone. Despite how nasty and spooky it can be out there it's also strangely beautiful in a surreal kind of way. No matter what you like to photograph, you can find it at the Salton Sea...birds and wildlife, beautiful scenic nature and Urbex.

These photos are the bathhouse at an abandoned mineral spa. The area has a lot of geothermal activity and there are hot springs and mudpots in the surrounding area.

Inside the abandoned mineral spa at the Salton Sea


  1. Thanks Heather, it was a nice surprise to find at the perfect time of day.