Jan 19, 2015

Abandoned Yacht Club in Salton City, CA

In the 1950s Salton City, California was established and developed as a resort community along the booming Salton Sea. Roads and utilities were built in anticipation of the floods of people expected to move to the area. Instead, much of the land was purchased as investments, and in the 1970s when the sea flooded and the salinity increased the demand for property and tourism in the area dried up. What was left in Salton City was an elaborate network of roads and street signs that never saw development.

One of the many street signs on a completely vacant street.
One of the earlier success stories around the Salton Sea was the Salton Bay Yacht Club located in Salton City. It was a stunning building that echoed the optimism surrounding the sea in its heyday. Like all of the other tourist attractions it was eventually abandoned and sat vacant for years before eventually being demolished in 2000. 

I drove down the western side of the Salton Sea to check out the abandoned location in December 2014 to see what it looked like today. I knew the building was long gone, but I was curious if any clues remained. 

I arrived at the intersection of Marina and Yacht Club Drive in Salton City and was impressed by what once was. Two double-laned streets divided by a continuous row of palm trees still leads directly to the shoreline where the Yacht Club would have been revealed as you turned around the slight bend. Most (if not all) of those palm trees are dead now.

The archival shots above really sell what a place this was in its prime.

Today, you pull up to what would have been the parking lot, where the only clues that something used to be there are the curbs surrounding the dead trees. All traces of the building were removed when it was demolished, however the most startling thing is how much the sea has receded from where the Salton Bay Yacht Club once stood.

The Salton Sea has dropped several feet since my last visit in 2010, however if you look at this archival picture of the sea and the abandoned Yacht Club from the 1990s (seen below) the transition is pretty shocking. It's actually hard to wrap your head around how it went from a luxurious hangout to this.

This shot is from the 1990s. The shot below is the view looking out to the sea today.

Salton City has actually seen growth throughout the 2000s due to the rising housing costs in Southern California. The population has grown from around 1000 to 3700 in the last decade. To be honest, my impression of Salton City wasn't that it was abandoned, more so, there was just lots of vacant space between the buildings that were in use. The fire station was a prime example. It's just a little building sitting all by its lonesome in the middle of the desert.  

Looking towards the parking lot, standing where the Yacht Club was.


Robert said...

I used to swim in the pool there, and I was a bus-boy too. There were docks down below and to the north of the building, and a motel to the south by the pool. The water used to get pretty high and flood out the lower floor (basement)for the utilities. When I was about 8-9, I helped Sam Wilkerson with electrical stuff in the main building.

SurferDave said...

I think Robert is thinking of the North Shore Yacht Club. There weren't any docks near this facility.
He's describing the Northern club to a "T", especially the motel to the south which is now gone as well.