Hold Your Nose and Enjoy

Photographs From the Salton Sea, California’s Most Odiferous Unnatural Wonder

by Kim Stringfellow

A few weeks ago, distinctive and noxious undercurrents churned upward into the nether reaches of the atmosphere and blanketed the Southland in a stench. Some people mistook it for landfill emanations; others worried of gas leaks. But eventually all fingers pointed southeastward toward the Salton Sea, that vast accidental lake created by a flooding of the Colorado River in 1905. The noxious odor that made headlines in Los Angeles is a familiar, even characteristic, fume to residents of the Coachella Valley. The areas most affected by it are Mecca and Indio and, on occasion, the more affluent retirement communities of Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs. Now that the emissions have made it all the way to the Southland, perhaps more Angelenos will take an interest in the plight of the Salton Sea, which I have been photographing for over a decade.

Buy the Book: Skylight Books, Powell’s, Amazon.

Kim Stringfellow is an artist and educator residing in Joshua Tree, California. She teaches multimedia and photography courses at San Diego State University as an associate professor in the School of Art, Design, and Art History. She is the author of Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005.

*Photos by Kim Stringfellow.


Send A Letter To the Editors

    Please tell us your thoughts. Include your name and daytime phone number, and a link to the article you’re responding to. We may edit your letter for length and clarity and publish it on our site.

    (Optional) Attach an image to your letter. Jpeg, PNG or GIF accepted, 1MB maximum.