Here is a beautiful, short documentary on the Salton Sea which has been making the rounds on YouTube, with almost 1/2 million views in the last month. If you are visiting any San Diego tourist attractions, you may want to add a day and go visit this incredible landscape. (You can also reach there from the Palm Springs area and Joshua Tree.)
This documentary tells a story that we didn’t know — how an “engineering screw up of epic proportions” diverted the Colorado River into a desert basin that was “one of the lowest, hottest places on Earth.” It took two years to stem the waterflow from the river, and the Salton Sea was born.
Real estate developers sprung into action and sold “waterfront” lots, dredged canals, showed pictures of water-skiing families and people having fun. Take a look!
The documentary does great job showing the promotional films that sold the lots — and the desolation that followed as the collapse of the local economy created a ghost town. It’s a cautionary tale about environmental risk and degradation, too. The resulting landscape is so desolate and “post-apocalyptic” that it has been used as a location for several Hollywood films, too. (You’ll recognize the sand dunes from “Return of the Jedi,” one of the Star Wars movies.)
Amazing story — and definitely worth the six minutes it takes to watch.