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The Madera Tribune

Resorts turned into ghost towns

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webmaster | 03/31/12

Formed by mistake, the largest inland body of water in California lies in a sink over 200 feet below sea level in the southeastern corner of the state. When crossing the vast, empty desolation of the Colorado Desert 60 miles north of the border one suddenly sees a pristine body of water so long that from some vantage points the curvature of the earth hides the opposite shore.

My gal and I, after a six-hour journey, paused at the empty shoreline of the Salton Sea. Not a single vessel, or human could be seen boating, swimming or even sunbathing. A single car passing by on lonely Highway 111 honked, it’s passengers no doubt glad to see fellow human beings.

Why a sea in the middle of a desert? The creation of the Salton Sea began when heavy rainfall and snow-melt in 1905 caused the Colorado River to overrun a set of floodgates. For two years the entire volume of the Colorado flowed down two newly created rivers. Water always flows to the lowest point and in this case it was the Salton Sink. By 1907 the flooding had finally ceased and the Sea had been born.

To learn more we stopped at the Salton Sea Museum. It has a history of its own. The museum is now housed in a trailer at the end of a dirt road near the north end of the Sea. Unfortunately, even after much cleanup and restoration, the museum was forced to vacate its previous home, the historic North Shore Yacht Club building. Still, before heading down the shoreline, my gal and I took the brief time to look around and talk to the docent, a friendly and talkative gentleman. Naturally, the next stop was the aforementioned Yacht Club...


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