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…
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!
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!
Each time I would visit Palm Springs and return home I would get asked “Did you go to Salvation Mountain?” Here’s the funny thing about where Salvation Mountain is… It’s hardly “close” to Palm Springs. Palm Springs, and its neighboring cities of Palm Desert, Cathedral City, and Indio are the closest cities of any real consequence to Salvation Mountain, which is actually located in Niland, near the southeastern edge of the Salton Sea, and about 75 miles from Palm Springs. But it’s like, if you’re already that far out into the desert, why not go? And this time we finally made it. So, what is Salvation Mountain?
In 1984 a man by the name of Leonard Knight trekked out to Niland and began to build a monument to God, and the message of “God is Love”, a message Knight felt so deeply and wanted to share with the world. He added to the mountain in a variety of ways every day. He also covered his vehicles in the same message with incredible detail. Seriously. People come for the mountain, but the trucks to me are the real work of art. No matter your religious beliefs, I think Salvation Mountain is a must see for those interested in the weird and bizarre of California’s desert landscape, as well as those interested in folk art, because it truly is a prime example of folk art.
Knight passed away in February of 2014, but Salvation Mountain doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s still looked after, and it is still an incredibly popular spot for people to visit, at least a dozen people came and went while we were there.
This pretty much wraps it up for my Palm Springs posts. I did a bit of shopping, and am contemplating a “haul” post, but not entirely sold on the idea yet…so we’ll see!
Hat: Ricochet, Joshua Tree, California
Blouse & Shorts: Buffalo Exchange
Belt: I honestly don’t remember…
Recently I was contacted by a Robert Jones, a photographer who had published a book called Garish: Roadside Color Polaroids, after seeing my interest in roadside and photography on my blog. I am always eager to look at photos featuring roadside attractions, dilapidated buildings and long forgotten signage, and the fact that this book was shot entirely with a Polaroid Colorpack III made it all the more interesting.
I honestly couldn’t help smiling when going through Jones’ book. It was full of exactly what I love. Signs, both of the hand painted and neon variety, bizarre statues, buildings, and much more. Plus, he did it with a vintage camera, and if you’re a long-time reader, you may recall that Patrick has a love for shooting a vintage Kodak Dual Flex II, especially with color film, for all the same reasons Jones does. Vintage, middle-class consumer level cameras, of the Polaroid and Kodak variety, have relatively poor lenses, ones that create soft focuses, and natural vignetting. These effects, combined with the rich colors that are ever more saturated with the film, create an almost dream like effect, like you are looking at an image from a memory of something long since past. It personally made me feel good knowing someone else is out there doing what I love to do, and finding these delightful bits of history and taking a snapshot to share with the rest of the world.
John DeFore accompanies Jones’ photographs with an essay on the topic of color film. From the beginning, color film was shunned by the photography world’s elite. Black and white was the only way to go in order to be taken seriously as an artist working in the photographic medium. I found DeFore’s essay very interesting, and in many ways could relate. When I was in high school I took what was one of the last black and white film photography classes at our school. The year after I graduated our school replaced it with digital photography. (I guess I should be thankful that they kept a photography program.) However the subject matter I always wanted to capture involved color! The lush blonde hair of my friend set against red bricks, when we had to do a portrait, the red of a rose in our still-life assignment, and the brightly colored 99W Drive-In when we were able to shoot whatever we wanted for our final project. And the items I enjoyed shooting outside of the classroom also involved color, especially when I would attend car shows with my dad. Candy apple red, aqua, and plum crazy (yes, an actual factory color from Dodge). Yes, the dynamic lines of vintage automobiles, the curve of a friend’s face, could all be captured in stark black and white, but for so long what man has created has never been the subject matter of “real artists” when it comes to photography. For me, and it seems for Jones as well, photographing the man made is not just one of artistic endeavor, but also one of preservation, to capture something that someone else put time and love into, before it is lost to time. Jones, as DeFore discusses, does not appear to look at his subject matter with “ironic juxtapositions, or framed them in ways that suggest a new layer of meaning is being created, Jones is happy to simply celebrate what he has found.” That isn’t to say that Jones just takes a picture without giving it thought. Much of his framing is glorious, and I would love to have nearly any one of these pieces featured in this book hanging on my wall.
I utterly appreciate what Jones has done here. He lets his images speak for themselves, with their vibrate colors, and the use of the Colorpack III film size. It is books like Garish that continue to inspire me, to seek out the unique, bizarre and manmade attractions that dot our landscape here in America.