The Salton Sea, California’s largest inland body of water, was a spectacular oasis in the desert which attracted droves of boating, fishing, and beach enthusiasts for fun in the sun.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Salton Sea was a notorious playground for celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, and the Beach Boys, who routinely drove out from Hollywood, 175 miles away. By the 1970s, unpredictable and poisonous agricultural runoff continually flooded the shorelines and caused many of the fish to die.
After storms decimated several of the resorts and marinas, many residents were forced to abandon their homes and businesses. These once glorious seaside towns have been reduced to bleak, desolate wastelands, as the Salton Sea is now drying up. It has become the site of an ecological disaster, as toxic dust from its exposed bottom is picked up by winds, poisoning the humans, wildlife, and agriculture of the entire region.
Abandoned California: The Salton Sea is a collection of photographs and writings by Andy Willinger which capture the sublime beauty of the forsaken landscapes, buildings, and artifacts of this historic area’s once vibrant past.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Andy Willinger is an artist, photographer, writer, and creative originally from New York City. As the son of a Madison Avenue creative director and the stepson of a photojournalist, he was raised to appreciate the importance of striking visuals and clever storytelling. Andy studied at Boston University, earning a B.S. degree in broadcasting and film. He came to California in 1990, where he fell in love with the capacious horizons of the desert and the sea, living in both Los Angeles and the Joshua Tree area. After establishing a successful career in television, Andy continues to be a devoted explorer of the delicate beauty and unforgiving desolation of the American Southwest. His photographs are collected and displayed worldwide.