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Photo Essay after "Bombay Beach Christmas" photo

This month sees publication of our newest print issue, Hobart #15: HOTEL CULTURE. As such, and as we have done to accompany our last few print issues, we are devoting the month to various "bonus materials" -- photo essays, alternate endings, drawings, extra short fictions, interviews, & more!

Today we've got a photo essay to accompany Elizabeth McGuire's Hobart 15 story, "Bombay Beach Christmas."


1. I visited Bombay Beach a few years back over Christmas. The tiny town sits on the shores of the Salton Sea, a giant, originally fresh water lake in the California desert that was never meant to be.


2. Its unlikely beginning: Man made canals were built to irrigate the desert for agricultural by funneling water from the Colorado River.


3. But nature did not cooperate. The river burst the canals dumping its entire flow, out of control and unstoppable for over a year and a half… and California’s largest lake was born in 1905.


4. A generation later the shores were transformed into California’s version of the French Riviera. 3 hours south of LA, Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis slept here in the 50’s.


5. But the lake has no outlet… repeated flooding buried the yacht club, marinas and hotels.


6. And rising saline levels and toxic runoff left the beaches littered with rotting fish and dead birds.


7. Fast forward 50 years, the tourist paradise morphed into a different kind paradise for a new population.


8. Bombay Beach re-emerged, this time with mobile homes and trailers. Off grid survivalist camps of drifters, snowbird retirees, musicians and ex-military set up on the outskirts with no water, electric or sewage… and no taxes.  The last free place on earth.


9. Now the biggest tourist attraction is a huge mound of rubber tires and painted dirt called Salvation Mountain, 20 miles from the nearest gas station.


10. The Range is the place for entertainment with” Live Music under the Stars” every Saturday night …for anyone who wants to play.


11. The Living Water Mission, also known as the blue church, posted notice: Pastor Pat left and has not returned.





image: Elizabeth McGuire