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On the road in "Sharemerica": The Salton Sea, Part 3


Editor’s note: Local photographer Bryan McCormick recently left Las Vegas on an open-ended journey into the nation’s “sharing culture,” which he plans to document in words, pictures and a variety of other media, along with the places he visits. These are the ongoing chronicles of his adventures. This installment, filed from California’s Salton Sea, explores the area’s desolation.

I’ve taken a very different path for this posting on the Salton Sea. It came out of walking around looking not only at the beauty of the place, but also the unavoidable downside. The reason that the curious come here in the first place. And this is where I get to drop some disaster porn on you, of a sort.

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What I saw most was what was never built, and the vast emptiness of the place as a result. Plots of land, cut into by the off-roaders, stand without homes and overgrown with weeds. Thousands of power line polls going nowhere speak of a community that never happened. There are many crossroads that are only road crossings, where nothing was built but the signs. Here and there are nearly new houses, but they stand far apart from any other dwelling.

The damage done everywhere to the land is evident. In most pictures here you will see the criss-crossing of motorcycle and four-wheelers. Broken shards of walls dot the place. Isolated neighborhood markers speak of a future that never came to be.

And there are the dry docks, marina keys that are nearly dry, with the odd crust that has formed from salt, and small pools of water slowly evaporating. There’s even an abandoned factory of a kind, a Japanese shrimp farm that never made it. The empty huts are all that remain. Houses sit devoid of people, but with all their objects still inside. It’s as if a war broke out and everything was left as it was. Only the heavy dust on the outside of the house and peeling woodwork hint that these places have been empty for a long time.

In all of it, there is a kind of beauty. Different from that of the sunsets and sunrises that are so impossibly stunning. But seeing the totality of the place is the only way to understand it as it is today.

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