Life, Off The Grid
Slab City or The Slabs is a community of several thousand squatters & camper van dwellers who have built their very own city away from the constraints of conventional society. The site is decommissioned & uncontrolled, it has no electricity, running water, sewers or toilets.
We arrived in the neighbouring village of Niland as daylight broke, in search of this creatively inspiring, post apocalyptic masterpiece in the desert. After a few wrong turns we crossed a railroad track & continued down, what looked like an abandoned old dirt road, ladened with pot holes & discarded waste. We seemed to be heading towards nothing, when suddenly we reached a sign which read ‘Welcome to Slab City, The Last Free Place’.
Our early morning arrival into Slab City meant that the residents were all still dormant. This came as somewhat of a relief, as we had heard stories about the number of outlaws, convicts & addicts that were using Slab City as a place to hide away, enabling them to go about their lives without harassment from the authorities. The reputation of Slab City being as close to the ‘Old West’ as you are ever going to find seemed somewhat appropriate, as the tumble weed rolled by in the cold desert breeze.
I doubt you are considering Slab City as your next holiday destination! However if you wanted a cheap getaway then you could take advantage of the thermal mud baths, a skatepark located in an abandoned Olympic-sized pool or you could even play 18 holes at the rather primitive ‘Gopher Flats’ golf course, all located within this eccentric desert metropolis.
Free meals, entertainment & music concerts are also provided. All that is asked is that new visitors remember the rules, “Respect your neighbour, or stay the hell away”.
The legacy of Leonard Knight
Our inquisitive sense of adventure had led us off the beaten track & outside of our comfort zone.
Like the many visitors that had come before us, we were not completely aware of the purpose or sentiment of this unique technicolored mountain, but only of its existence.
We later found out that this visionary environment covering a hill in the Colorado Desert, seven miles from the Salton Sea, is made from adobe, straw & thousands of gallons of lead-free paint. It was created by the recently deceased local resident, Leonard Knight.
Leonards Technicolour Mountain
Leonard’s commitment & dedication to the mountain had been relentless for over 30 years. He originally only planed to stay at the Slabs a short while leaving a small statement behind. One thing led to another, the mountain grew & grew. The hard work didn’t go unnoticed, Salvation Mountain has even been documented into the Congressional Record of the United States proclaiming Salvation Mountain as a national treasure.
It is Leonard’s hope that his message of ‘Love’ will be seen all over the world & that people everywhere will show more love & compassion for their fellow men.