Sodium Burn
347
03. 01. 17

Ralph Graef

Bombay Beach

On a trip through California, Arizona and New Mexico in August 2016 I was looking for little roadside gems aside from shiny cities (that are sparse there anyway) and famous national parks. When driving along the Salton Sea in southern California I accidentally encountered an outlandish settlement appearing in the shimmering heat at the shore of this large, salty lake. It is called Bombay Beach and part of a former resort area that developed at this artificial lake in the twenties. The existence of the Salton Sea is a consequence of a dike breach of an insufficient irrigation system that happened in 1905 due to unusually heavy rainfall causing the waters of the Colorado river to flood the dry land. As so often, the Americans made a virtue of necessity and used the lake as a resort area. Yet, due to the combination of draught and pollution by agricultural runoff, toxic bacteria and algae bloomed and salinity increased, which rendered Salton Sea a bad place for life - both for fishes and humans. Nowadays the settlements at the lake shore spend a dreary existence and are mostly abandoned. Bombay Beach lost 70% of its inhabitants within the last 25 years. Almost 300 people are still living there without a shop and more than 20 miles away from the next gas station. Their village consists of permanently parked caravans, prefabs and wooden shacks just placed on the naked earth. The water is too salty for irrigation, thus there's almost no green, just pitiless heat. When strolling around this village I tried to capture the dreary atmosphere, melancholy and summer heat of this remarkable place

Route 66, The Mother Road - 1. California

The Route 66, also called Will Rogers Highway, is maybe the most famous original highway of the USA. It was established in 1926 and it ran from Santa Monica CA to Chicago IL. As times passed it was bypassed by the Interstate road system and it was officially removed from the US highway system in 1985. However, as a historic reminiscence its remnants are now labeled as a scenic byway with "Historic Route 66" signs. Many roadside reminiscences and curiosities are left reminding the traveller of the exciting past when the country was developed for long-distance car travels. While some old historic motels and gas stations are still in use, many are abandoned and prone to decay. In August 2016 I created a portrait of the Historic Route 66 from California to New Mexico.

Source
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http://www.graef-fotografie.de/

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