The Salton Sea was created between 1905 and 1907, when an engineering flub formed a 15 mile-wide, 35 mile-long “sea.”
The flub came when the Colorado River burst out of diversion canals and into the farm irrigation system, flooding, along with everything else, a 1,000 acre salt mine. The newly formed salty deep became even saltier as the irrigation water from the river deposited about 600 tons more into the water.
In 1927, Gus Eilers decided to take this blunder and turn it into the best mistake ever made. He took the strange "sea" in the middle of the desert and turned it into a highly successful oasis resort. After 20 years of success and fun in the sun, the ecological disaster brewing finally boiled over, and the high salinity of the water mixed with the incredible amount of agricultural run-off turned the popular vacation spot into a polluted, nightmarish ghost town.
Nonetheless, besides being the largest inland lake in California, the Salton Sea now supports more than 400 species of migratory birds. Despite the complications, efforts are being made to clean up the site. Among the biggest Salton Sea supporters are the volunteers at the Salton Sea History Museum. Avid collectors of photos, literature, and artifacts related to the sea and its history, the museum spotlights the physical, cultural and natural history of the sea and surrounding areas, providing educational opportunities and promoting regional pride.
Located at the Desert Cahuilla Wetlands, the museum not only provides you with a window into the accidental sea and its strange rise and fall, but is surrounded by a bird and wildlife habitat that can be explored one you've gotten your fill of exhibits.