Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Slabs, aka Slab City

Today we drove to Niland, CA specifically to explore a true piece of Americana; The Slabs or Slab City. This place is just amazing. It was here in 1942 that General George C. Patton trained his troops in desert warfare, preparing for the North African Campaign of World War II. Called Camp Dunlap. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Marines trained in the area. In 1946, the buildings were knocked down but the slabs remained, Hence the name, The Slabs. During the winter months, there are about 700 RV's in the area. The Summer population is about 50 "Slabbers". No wonder, the temperature occasionally gets to 120* !!. There is no water supply, no electricity, etc. Just the dessert.
There is a church, a nightclub, a library, flea market, etc.
The main feature is Salvation Mountain. Begun in 1989 by Leonard Knight. It's the most amazing structure. He started painting the side of a hill as a tribute to God. Then decided it had to a more permanent tribute and started stacking bales of hay, tree trunks, scrap lumber, etc. into a truly unique structure. Adobe holds everything together.
We met Leonard. He gave us a personal tour of his creation. He lives here in a truck you will see in a photo. All materials used were scrounged from the city dump or donated. He has no money.
We're camped for the night just behind the Slabs welcome sign that used to be the guard shack for the base.

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