The Salton Sea is an accidental sea, a large body of salty water that ranks as the largest body of water in California that was created in 1905 when the Colorado River overran its headgates and was almost fully diverted into the Imperial Valley. The diversion lasted for two years, though the sea saw sporadic flooding through the '30s.
In the 1920s, real estate developers built the Salton Sea up as a tourist attraction and constructed entire towns on its shores.
One of the problems with the Salton Sea is that there was no outflow, meaning salts and agricultural runoff had no place to go. The sea's water kept getting saltier and saltier and more polluted with each year, eventually killing off most of the fish and other sea life that had found their way into the waters.
As the waters declined so did the tourist towns. Today's Salton Sea is a ghost town of bleached trailers and abandoned buildings.
Check out this great six-minute documentary about the tragic story of the Salton Sea.
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