Abandoned along the Highway

As mentioned in my post about Rock-a-Hoola, I love photographing abandoned locations, and we stumbled upon quite a few during our road trip, dotted in between tiny towns, and miles of fields. So here is quite the picture heavy post of what happens when buildings get left behind…

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Rock-a-Hoola Waterpark

When it comes to my passion for photographing abandoned Americana, my love really is with places from the mid-20th century or older. However any place that is abandoned I’ll check out, even if it was abandoned just thirteen years ago, which is the case with Lake Dolores’ Rock-a-Hoola Waterpark off Interstate 15 in Newberry Springs.

Originally, the area around Lake Dolores was a private resort, but opened to the public in 1962. By 1998, it had new owners, and a massive remodel, which added the Rock-a-Hoola Waterpark with the most horrendous and gaudy “retro” theme, which ended up looking like a that 1980s vision throwback to the 1950s. You can check out a video of what it once looked like here, now it has been overrun by graffiti, and I was able to only locate one spot that featured the original “Rock-a-Hoola” text. The park closed in 2004.

Today, a hill looms high with nothing but oddly foreboding supports from the long disappeared waterslides over tag ridded buildings that continue to fade and decay in the hot Mojave sun.

I took loads of photos, so gear up for a pretty picture heavy post!

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Over the weekend Patrick and I visited Corriganville Park, the former location of Corriganville, a western backlot and amusement park of sorts from 1949 to 1965.

Corriganville was built by movie and TV actor Ray Bernard, but better known as Crash Corrigan. After going on a hunting trip in Simi Valley with fellow actor, Clark Gable, in 1935, Corrigan fell in love with the area. In 1937, Corrigan purchased over 1,000 acres of land, and built his home there. He eventually went on to build an entire western backlot, dubbed Silvertown, and many films and TV showers were filmed there, including Fort Apache, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, How the West was Won, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and more. In 1949 Corrigan decided to open his backlot to the public, and the area turned into an amusement park on weekends, while still being a fully functioning backlot during the week. Think of it like a blend of Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

He also allowed film crews to build their own sets, as long as they left them standing after filming, which is how the area got a “Corsican Village” after Howard Hughes’ 1950 film Vendetta.

After selling Corriganville in 1965 to Bob Hope, the area suffered two fires, one in 1971 and another in 1979, leaving almost nothing standing. Today, Corriganville is a park, and visitors can walk among the concrete foundations and visit what remains of a man-made lake that was originally used for the Jungle Jim series, but was used in for a variety of films, including Creature from the Black Lagoon and The African Queen, as it featured a camera house built under a bridge with thick glass windows, allowing for underwater filming.

Continue reading for images of the remains of Corriganville, postcards of what it looked like, and more!

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Ghost Towns along Highway 49

I am sorry to report I don’t have any images from our time spent in Portland. I was incredibly busy constantly visiting with friends and family, and shopping of course! What I do have to show for our trip though are some shots I took of some ghost towns. we visited during our journey back home.

Honestly, I can’t recall when I first fell in love with the old mining towns along California Highway 49. What I do remember though is being very young and marveling at the old buildings the small town of Mariposa, where my great aunt and uncle used to lived (they have since moved to Seal Beach). We visited them every so often during our trips to California, and I always loved returning to that town. California’s gold rush is a unique moment in time, and a driving force in California’s rich (no pun intended) history, much like the Spanish missions and Hollywood. The towns that sprung up from it continue to draw me in whenever I get the chance to drive through them.

After crossing the border between Oregon and California, we peeled off I-5 just before Sacramento and made our way down Highway 49 visiting Amador City, Sutter Creek, Mokelume Hill, Murphys, Angels Camp, and Columbia. Sadly, we didn’t make it into Mariposa (it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since I was there) but there are still many more gold rush towns I wish to visit, and I know we will make it there one day. But today I just want to share with you some of the images I took during our visit to these quiet and peaceful towns.

A couple of years ago we visited Coloma, where gold was first discovered in California, and you can take a peek at here.

Patrick and I didn’t have much down time after getting home. In fact we are off to Joshua Tree for the weekend! So I better go repack my suitcase! I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Goodbye to the Fantasyland Skyway Station

Sorry for the dead air as of late. I caught what has been going around down here, a late spring cold that had me laid up for the last two weeks. I’m finally beginning to feel better and can finally begin to focus on blogging again.

Four years ago I wrote a post dedicated to one of Disneyland’s lost attractions, but one that still had a physical reminder at the park, the Skyway. Opening in 1954, the Skyway was a gondola lift type attraction that took Guests high above Disneyland, through the Matterhorn, and to either Fantasyland or Tomorrowland. While it closed in 1994, I still have vivid memories of riding it, and miss it greatly, as it was a great way to get from one side of the park to the other, especially during parades. Shortly after closing, the Tomorrowland station was dismantled quickly, however the Fantasyland station remained, tucked away behind trees.

Very soon the Fantasyland Skyway Station will meet the fate of the neighboring Frontierland areas of Big Thunder Ranch, as the Disneyland Resort makes way for their new Star Wars themed land. So, Patrick and I took a little visit the other day to snap some more pictures of it before it is lost forever.

This post, while about Disneyland, still hits home to the heart and soul of what I want to do more of; photographing something before it is lost entirely – contributing in some small way to the history of something. Focusing in on this approach to posts has made me less concerned about whittling down the number of photos I post too. So, gear up for a pretty picture heavy post.

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Desert Shores

Over the weekend Patrick and I took a day trip to the Salton Sea to see what we could see (yeah, I just went there). Last March I visited the ghostly Salton Sea for the first time with my dad, but we only explored the east side of the sea. During this visit, Patrick and I drove along a portion of the west side.

The anomaly that is the Salton Sea was the result of flooding from the Colorado River into irrigation canals along an area known as the Salton Sink, a dry lake bed high in salt deposits, so high that salt mining occurred in the area in the late 1800s. As the canals were breached, water poured in, and a singular lake, with no water source going in (after the flood was contained) or an outlet, meaning the only way for water to leave is through evaporation, a process that leaves behind more salt. After World War II, the California Department of Fish and Game released thousands of fish into the sea, and the fishermen quickly flocked to the area (as did many species of birds) and in the mid-twentieth century the area became a resort destination. Backs of postcards described a place where “the boating facilitates are the best and the modern motel, trailer park and cafe will add to your vacationing pleasure” However, many of the fish released could not tolerate the high salinity of the water combined with toxic chemical runoff, and began to die by the hundreds, washing up on shore, and within a few years, the great Salton Sea resort boom was over.

Today the Salton Sea looks like remnants of a war zone, with hollowed out buildings, trailers that appear as if they would fall over with a sneeze made too close to them. But the area is part of California’s unique history, which is something I continue to seek out, and capture before it completely disappears.

As we walked the shores and explored the area, we met other photographers, one who makes regular visits to the Salton Sea. He described how much has changed over the years, and whispers of a push to tear down what remains. It should be noted that while these images give a sense of complete and utter desolation, the area is not uninhabited, for there are still residents along the shores of the Salton Sea.

So much has disappeared over the last two decades, and the area is now rampant with graffiti. Patrick and I discussed revisiting later this year, as we still need to visit Salvation Mountain, another one of California’s oddities.

Stay tuned for a look at what I wore for our outing, and Patrick will be doing another guest post to discuss the North Shore Yacht Club.

A Return to the Orchid Tree Inn

In 2013 during a visit to Palm Springs I shared images of a vacant (and at the time, for sale) hotel and adjacent church. It was The Orchid Tree Inn and the Community Church of Palm Springs, and you can view the first visit here. When we returned to Palm Springs in 2014, the hotel we were staying at was actually right across the street from the Orchid Tree Inn, and it still was vacant and had suffered a major blow. In September of 2013, the church fell victim to a fire.

When we visited in spring of 2014, I snapped pictures, but couldn’t find the words to describe my feelings at the time, and thus didn’t blog about it. Earlier this week we visited Palm Springs once again for Patrick’s annual conference there and I found myself lured to the Orchid Tree Inn for a third time to check in on its state. Sadly, nothing had really changed, but I still snapped photos. I was also prompted to do some more research on the fire and the status of the hotel.

In doing in my research, I came across an article that discussed that the church and Orchid Tree Inn are to be renovated to what is described as a “luxury boutique hotel” and it prompted me to feel a need to share the photos from last year and the recent ones ones I took this week. It is difficult to get fresh photos of a property you can only take photos of from the perimeter, but I just wanted to share these images to help in telling the history and story of the Orchid Tree Inn, and in some way, aiding to its preservation. First let’s take a look at the photos from last year.

Gear up for a pretty picture heavy post!

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