In the 1800s, pioneers to the region found accumulations of salts, soluble minerals. Salt was mined in the dry lake bed. Canals built in 1901 by Charles R. Rockwood and George Chaffey Jr. to provide water to the area were filling with silt by 1904 and farmers were suffering. Three more canals were dug in 1905 to increase the flow of water to Imperial Valley. Heavy rains and an early El Nino in 1905 caused the Colorado River to flood, eroding Rockwood and Chaffey's canals, inundating the Salton area for 16 months, resulting in California's largest lake - 35 miles long and 15 miles wide. The surface of the Salton Sea is 227 feet below sea level.
The Salton Sea melds into the Santa Rosa Mountains
in the distance.
in the distance.
Resorts were built along the shore line in the 1920s. During World War II, planes practicing water landings introduced barnacles to the Salton Sea.
By the 1950s, the Salton Sea was a very popular recreation area. State parks were built along the shoreline. And the crowds came, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the Rat Pack, Guy Lombardo raced speedboats. The Pointer Sisters and Beach Boys performed at the lake in the 1960s. According to locals, every day there was a party. I found this video on the CNN website that provides the latest developments on the Salton sea.
Salt along the southern shoreline
Eric and I see military jets and helicopters flying over the Salton Sea. We've been told that Navy pilots from the Naval Air Facility at El Centro fly over the Salton Sea so that they can add to their flight logs that they have flown below sea level.
The Salton Sea is becoming saltier. The Salton Sea Authority Web Site lists the lake's salinity level at 25% higher than ocean water.
Dead tilapia are found regularly on the beach.
The sand consists of barnacles & dead fish.