The abandoned Salton Riviera and ruins of Bombay Beach were once a thriving resort community, just a few miles outside of Los Angeles. The ambitious development included 25,000 residential lots and over 250 miles of paved roads (along with electrical power, water and sewage). Today it’s a ghost town. And it smells really, really bad.
Salton City was developed in the 1950s and bordered the Salton Sea, which is “a saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault.” However, due to its isolation and “lack of local employment opportunities” little development took place over the years. Initial designs for the resort included a business district, churches, a championship golf course, schools, and a luxury hotel-yacht club-marina.
The “Salton Riviera” (as the resort community came to be called) was an initial success, taking in over $4.25 million in lot sales in just its opening weekend. Politicians and Hollywood celebrities frequented the desert oasis, and it became one of California’s most popular recreation retreats. However, most of the lots that were purchased were for investment and few were developed.
The resort community collapsed towards the end of the 1970s. Buildings were abandoned as the sea level rose and “throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as salinity and suspected pollution levels in the Salton Sea increased.” If you visit the Salton Riviera today, you’ll still see the haunting abandoned remnants of once thriving beach town. Just beware, the stench from the pollution and salinity can be quite pungent.