Bombay Beach is a quirky ghost-like town located on the eastern shore of Salton Sea in Imperial County, California. The Salton Sea is 223 feet below sea level; this makes Bombay Beach the lowest (sea level) community in the United States.
The Salton Sea formed in 1905 when the Colorado River breached a canal and poured into this dry desert basin, creating a habitat for hundreds of species of fish and birds as well as a booming tourist and water-sport recreation area frequented by movie industry celebrities from Los Angeles, only 170 miles to the west.
In the 1980’s, increasing agricultural runoff contributed to the mounting salinity of the Salton Sea that eventually destroyed the lake’s ecosystem and drove businesses and private landowners out of the area. I hope these images convey the deeply surreal experience I felt when I visited this unique desert community in the spring of 2021.
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