Elevation: -125 feet
Land Area: 21.6 square miles
In the 1950’s, developers began to build yacht clubs and resort communities in response to the growing popularity of the Salton Sea. By far the most ambitious development was Salton City, located on the western shore of the Sea. Developer M. Penn Philips and the Holly Corporation planned 25,000 lots, laid 250 miles of paved roads, as well as installing an extensive network of water, sewage, and electrical services. Plans for this “Salton Riviera” included an entire business district, schools, churches, parks, community services, an 18-hole PGA golf course, and a $500,000 luxury yacht club and hotel designed by famous architect Albert Frey.
Upon opening in 1958, the project was an instant success with sales over $4 million. Celebrity guests included Frank Sinatra, Dwight Eisenhower, and Desi Arnaz. The famous Salton City 500 Boat Race and Hawaiian luaus at sunset were all the rage at the birth of this city.
Although sales were brisk, most people purchased lots for investment only, and therefore few houses were actually built. By the late 1970’s, with a looming environmental disaster and a flooded shoreline, the dream of a Salton metropolis was lost.
Today, Salton City is a virtually empty town of scattered lots, although it does offer a small market with attached Mexican restaurant, volunteer fire station, church, the West Shores Chamber of Commerce, and absolutely the best hamburger in the valley at Super Burger. Local residents include Salton Sea activist Norm Niver and of course, The Landman.
Just outside of town winds an empty highway that snakes through the Anza-Borrego State Park onward to San Diego. This is where nudist, the late Donald Scheidler, used to stand in order proclaim his naked message of love.