Salton Sea History Museum – Mecca, California - Atlas Obscura
Salton Sea History Museum is permanently closed.

Salton Sea History Museum

A museum dedicated to a sea that should have never been. 


The Salton Sea was created between 1905 and 1907, when an engineering flub formed a 15 mile-wide, 35 mile-long “sea.”

The flub came when the Colorado River burst out of diversion canals and into the farm irrigation system, flooding, along with everything else, a 1,000 acre salt mine. The newly formed salty deep became even saltier as the irrigation water from the river deposited about 600 tons more into the water.

In 1927, Gus Eilers decided to take this blunder and turn it into the best mistake ever made. He took the strange “sea” in the middle of the desert and turned it into a highly successful oasis resort. After 20 years of success and fun in the sun, the ecological disaster brewing finally boiled over, and the high salinity of the water mixed with the incredible amount of agricultural run-off turned the popular vacation spot into a polluted, nightmarish ghost town.

Nonetheless, besides being the largest inland lake in California, the Salton Sea now supports more than 400 species of migratory birds. Despite the complications, efforts are being made to clean up the site. Among the biggest Salton Sea supporters are the volunteers at the Salton Sea History Museum. Avid collectors of photos, literature, and artifacts related to the sea and its history, the museum spotlights the physical, cultural and natural history of the sea and surrounding areas, providing educational opportunities and promoting regional pride.

Update 2017: Much like the Salton Sea itself, the future of the museum is uncertain. Currently, the Salton Sea History Museum does not have a permanent home, and has been waiting for the reinstatement of its lease at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club community center since the center reopened. While it was temporarily located in Mecca, California, the museum’s lease was terminated by the property, and the museum remains in limbo.

Know Before You Go

Closed and currently awaiting a new location.

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June 20, 2012

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