For those unfamiliar with the Salton Sea, it's the largest body of water in California, at 40 miles long by 25 miles wide. It's an accident of nature, as a salt basin in the middle of the desert was flooded in 1905 by a storm overflow of the Colorado river, and the water instantly created a rival to Lake Tahoe, where Angelenos & San Diegans could go for sportsfishing & recreational waterboating, etc.
The place thrived, and by the 1950s was a booming resort with several surrounding cities. Unfortunately, the unnatural existence of the lake, with no real inflow & no real drainage eventually led to trouble - what water that does flow in from farm irrigation, etc, arrives with a reasonable measure of salinity & a reasonable measure of toxicity (pesticides, etc). What water that exits does so via evaporation, which takes the water, but none of the salt or poison. So every year, the water that remains gets saltier, and more toxic.
In the mid 1970s, things went south, and by the 1990s the whole area was largely abandoned. A series of fishkills had lined the beaches with tens of thousands of dead fish, even as the government restocked with hardier species like tilapia. Eventually the entire area became predominantly known for being a haven for societal outcasts, methamphetamine makers & users, and the very poor.
It's a place like nowhere I've ever been, nor will likely ever return, but I'm glad I went.
Everything's too habitated and upkept here
Salton Sea Roadtrip photo-diary, presented without comment.