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Salton Sea History Museum & Visitor Center
We're working on some exciting ways to further our mission of educating about the history of the Salton Sea and the need for restoration. Stay Tuned!

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With the generous support of people like you, we can continue providing the public with the opportunity to learn about the historical and current events of the Salton Sea. We are always looking for items from the old days of the Salton Sea. If you would like information on donating items, please Contact Us.

This is an archival website for the Salton Sea Museum, which is closed. For information contact Linda Beal (760-250-8927).

Salton Sea History

A disaster created the inland sea, Mother Nature brought her to her knees.

Salton Sea

Lake Cahuilla

The Salton Sea region was part of the Gulf of California until about 4.4 million years ago. The Colorado River silt eventually blocked off the gulf and separated the region from the Pacific Ocean.

Over the centuries at least 5 lakes occupied the basin where the current Salton Sea lies.

The Salton Sea was created between 1905 and 1907 when the Colorado River broke through diversion canals in the irrigation system in Imperial County.

Ancient Lake Cahuilla (pictured above) was much larger than the current sea.


Lake Cahuilla Waterline

The water line of ancient Lake Cahuilla is still visible on the western shores of the Salton Sea near Travertine Point and in La Quinta.


New Liverpool Saltworks

The New Liverpool Salt Works began operation in 1885, near the present day town of North Shore.

Native Cahuilla Indians and local settlers worked the 1,000 acre mine.

All buildings were underwater by 1906 as the basin flooded. (Note the flooded Salt Works building below)

The salt deposits, said to cover 1,000 acres at 15’ thick, contributed to the salinity of the new ‘sea’.

Approximately 600 tons of added salt continue to be deposited in the sea annually through irrigation water from the Colorado River.

New Liverpool Saltworks Flooded

An engineering mistake had given birth to the Salton Sea, 35 miles long by 15 miles wide.

Salton Sea Flood 1906Salton Sea FloodSalton Sea FloodFixing the Salton Sea Flood


Eilers Date Palm Beach

Gus Eilers opened his new resort in 1927. Gus was responsible for having the first boat races on the Salton Sea. For 20 years he and his family catered to desert dwellers who wanted to experience this beautiful water playground in the middle of the desert. He hosted the rich and famous, the “boys” from Camp Young, sailors from the Salton Sea Naval Air Station and even Patton himself.

Date Palm Beach

Guy Lombardo, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra - Date Palm Beach
Guy Lombardo at Date Palm Beach with pals Jerry Lewis and Frank Sinatra
Guy Lombardo held many speed records on water, some set here at Eilers Date Palm Beach.

Guy Lombardo's Hurricane IV
Guy Lombardo set numurous speed boat records, one of which was at Date Palm Beach in 1948

World Champion's Regatta Date Palm BeachWorld's Champion Regatta - Date Palm Beach



Roy Hunter bought Date Palm Beach in 1947 and changed the name to Desert Beach, which still exists today. With many improvements, Desert Beach became a full-fledged yacht club.

Desert BeachDesert Beach

Skippers sail trim yachts, not subs, 40 fathoms below the Pacific on California's Salton Sea.

Desert Beach Yacht Club, 241 feet below sea level, welcomed the flyers with burning sands, 95 degree water and warm hospitality. A member of the American Power Squadron, the club holds speedboat races each fall. buoyancy of the salt-packed water makes for record-breaking runs.


All of this is now underwater. "Sunken City" was once the yacht club at Desert Beach. The photo below shows the Sunken City today.

Desert Beach Sunken City



Salton Sea State Recreation AreaSalton Sea State Recreation Area

The Salton Sea Sate Recreation Area was dedicated February 12, 1955 and 1,000 people attended the dedication ceremony.

The park had 1,880 acres with plans for 17 miles of water frontage extending into Imperial County. At the time of dedication it was one of the largest State Parks in California.



Pelicans at the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea, California's largest inland lake, supports a spectacular bird population that is among the most concentrated and most diverse in the world. Sadly, this crucial stopover along the Pacific Flyway for migratory and wintering shorebirds, land birds, and waterfowl is dangerously close to collapse from several environmental threats. More than 400 species and subspecies in all have been spotted at the Salton Sea.

Salton Sea Birds

Salton Sea Birds

The Brown Pelican, pictured above, was once endangered. They now thrive at the Salton Sea.

Sonny Bono

The Salton Sea is at a critical juncture, with most of the water coming from agricultural sources. New conservation measures are drastically reducing the inflow and proposed water transfers will further reduce inflow. 2018 may be the point of no return for the Salton Sea. If a restoration plan isn't adopted soon, we may lose this treasure of Southern California.

Without immediate intervention, the Salton Sea region will become a wasteland. Agriculture, recreation, human habitation and wildlife will suffer irreversible damage in Riverside and Imperial County.

Salton Sea Sunset


2008 Speedweek at the Salton Sea

Salton Sea Speed Weekend

14 World Records were set over the three day event!

Salton Sea Speed Weekend Boat

Salton Sea Speed Weekend

The photo above was taken during the 2008 Salton Sea Speedweek. An offshore boat with the famous rooster tail can be seen here.


North Shore Then and Now

North Shore Estates

The image above shows the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club and North Shore Motel in 1962.


Salton Sea History Museum

North Shore Beach & Yacht Club - Salton Sea History Museum

Originally opened in 1959 as the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club, the newly renovated building is now a historic site. The Albert Frey designed building was re-opened on May 1, 2010 and is home to the Salton Sea History Museum & Visitor Center.

With its completion and the harbor renovation currently underway, a resurgence of water recreation is expected.

Salton Sea History Museum

Inside the Salton Sea History Museum & Visitor Center

Copyright Salton Sea History Museum

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