This was the heyday, back when the Salton Sea was considered a burgeoning playground - "like Palm Springs but on the water". Prominent entertainers hung out and docked boats here, from the Marx Brothers to Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys. It's also said that through the 50s and 60s the Salton Sea was attracting more visitors than Yosemite National Park. You would've thought that the party would've lasted longer than only a few decades. It didn't.
In the 70s everything nosedived and by 1984 the Yacht Club was closed. Several major floods had destroyed the marina, and boats could no longer dock. This was in combination with the increasing salinity of the Salton Sea and massive fish die-offs each year, the smell of which drove the tourists away. Other notable destinations soon became ruins. Places like the North Shore Motel and the Salton Bay Yacht Club were eventually demolished. The dream had evaporated.
|Comparing the abandoned image I shot in 2009.
In a sea of sad stories, the North Shore Yacht Club is actually a bright spot. The building was saved and restored to its former glory, opening as a community center in 2010. That's not to say there aren't still major challenges and issues. The Salton Sea has been drying up, and plans to bring back the marina are welcomed, but still a long way off.
It's unclear what the future holds for the Salton Sea or the North Shore Yacht Club, but I know there are a handful of dedicated people working hard to make things happen. I hope these images of this unique part of California bring some attention to the Salton Sea and why it's worth saving. I love the history here, the architecture of this building, and the idea that the Salton Sea can and will be saved for future generations to enjoy and explore.
|North Shore Yacht Club abandoned in 2009.