Photo: Denise S. via flickr
Throughout the dark days of World War II, Camp Dunlap on the cusp of the Salton Sea in Southern California was the training ground for Marine anti-aircraft units preparing to go abroad and fight the war.The would-be gunners practiced on large concrete slabs and bunkers that give the area its current name: Slab City.
When the base closed in 1946 a few Marines stayed behind and the land has been occupied ever since.
There are about 150 year-round residents called “Slabbers” who brave the 120 degree summer heat, on the border of Mexico, with no electricity or running water. The number of dwellers swells in the winter as “snowbirds” arrive to take advantage of the free RV parking and laid back lifestyle.
People who’ve lost their jobs and their homes are now coming to Slab City, bolstering the stagnant population and making money where they can.
Jason Motlagh at Time took a recent trip to the old Marine camp and reports the most intrepid residents work the nearby active bombing range, pulling bomb fragments to sell as scrap metal in the nearby town of Niland, California. Population 1,006.
Slab City’s official website (membership $5) points out it isn’t about rich versus poor or big RV owners versus pick up truck drivers. It is, however, opposed to tent campers. There is a human waste issue with the off-the-gridders as A NOTICE REGARDING TENT CAMPING points out:
If you wander around behind Poverty Flats, where most of the tent activity takes place, you better be careful where you walk. The whole area is like a giant poop museum.
The whole area is littered with white clumps of toilet paper and crap piles, left behind by losers who have no regard for the law … People who come to Slab City with the intention of camping in tents are part of the problem, not the solution.
You’ve been warned.
Salvation Mountain, a man-made three-story structure that spans the length of a football field. Leonard Knight worked on creating and maintaining this piece of art for over three decades. You can walk through it and explore different rooms.
This is Flip Cassidy, frontman of Flip Cassidy & the Junkyard Gospel, posing in front of a monument to the late mayor of East Jesus Slab City
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