Surf City

WORDS: TROY PROUDFOOT / PHOTOGRAPHY: @KINGSTONPHOTO

THE YEAR WAS 1958, AND THERE, BENEATH THE HOT CALIFORNIAN SUMMER SUN, THE GREAT WHITE HOPE THAT BECAME TO BE KNOWN AS SALTON CITY WAS BORN INTO A MODERN WORLD FILLED WITH SO MANY FAILED STARTS AND STRAINED ATTEMPTS. HERE WAS AN ECLECTIC ’50S SUBURBAN WONDERLAND IN ITS INFANCY, BURSTING AT THE SEAMS WITH OVERFLOWING OPTIMISM, AND YET A RISING SALINE SEA WAS ENOUGH TO BRING IT CRUMBLING TO ITS KNEES. IT WAS AN IMAGINARY CITY OF NEW BEGINNINGS THAT SHONE LIKE THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM, WITH AN EXPIRATION DATE THAT CAME WAY TOO SOON.

It’s a zip code that once brought tourists in droves to the sandy beaches of the salton sea but now sits silent and desolate. A heart that once beat at its core now lies shattered in pieces as the remnants of a bygone era litter the streets and muddy the shoreline. North shore is now the outlands of the golden age where the surfers, rogue hearts and disenchanted all came to spend their endless summers, but really only came to live and die quietly in the night.

Setting out on the road from Salton City is like driving on a road to nowhere. It reaches up to consume all who venture into a realm that is honestly just disintegrating there in plain sight beneath the California sun. On approach, it’s the initial sight of the manmade ‘Salvation Mountain’ emblazoned in its colourful religious epitaphs out there in an the unforgiving setting of the Colorado desert that takes your breath away. Post-apocalyptic hell in essence, yet strangely beautiful and awe-inspiring in nature.

Dilapidated rest stops and gas stations now serve as sentries to a long forgotten villa of abandoned hair salons, hardware stores, trailer parks, houses of worship and drugstores. Out here in the slabs, squatters and nomads known as ‘snowbirds’ return to the outlands for the winter months to live off the grid and thrive in the middle of fucking nowhere, just to prove that technology is the root of all evil. Summertime sadness reigns supreme out here among the art installations, forgotten dreams, grit and grime.

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