Have you ever heard of Slab City, California?! Easily one of the eeriest, yet interesting, places I’ve ever stumbled upon. Slab City is a squatters city in the middle of the Sonoran Desert in California. Known as ‘The Last Free Place in America” — this funky city is home to people who have essentially removed themselves from society… or are at least trying to.
Its name comes from the concrete slabs that this squatter city was built upon that were left behind by Marine Corps barracks of Camp Dunlap during World War II. The history runs deep. So much deeper than I had originally thought when my friend, Vero ((Golden West Club)) brought up going on a day trip from San Diego to Slab City. The more famous, Salvation Mountain, has popped up on Instagram for me once or twice so I knew a little about it, but that is perhaps the most mundane part of Slab City..
From the different neighborhoods ranging in names from East Jesus, to West Satan, to Slab City Singles… There is much more than what even meets the eye. And that is saying a lot since the sensory overload of the ‘garbage made art’ in the sweltering desert heat is not for the faint of heart to say the least. Even the energy in that ‘city’ has a distinct and almost tangible feeling.
After touring around both Slab City and Bombay Beach… I couldn’t shake the need to know more of the history of WHY and HOW this has even come to fruition. So of course I turned to Spotify to hunt for a podcast explaining everything that I had questions about and found a two part episode that both quenched and deepened the thirst for diving into the world that is Slab City/Bombay Beach/Saltan Sea…
I didn’t even want to get out of the car at the Saltan Sea… there was such a haunting feeling being there at Bombay Beach and I wouldn’t understand why until we listened to the podcast on the drive home, but it is nice to know my gut instinct was spot on.
Bombay Beach used to be a vacation spot back up until the 1980’s… but now the Salton Sea is 5.3% saline and is not habitable for any life…
Would you ever go to Slab City?
Should we go back and interview some of the residents further to gain more of an understanding and peak into their lives?
And where should we explore next??
Here is the episode we listened to on our trek back to San Diego.