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The Salton Sea

THE SALTON SEA

ONCE CONNECTED TO THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA, WATERS
WITHIN THE SALTON BASIN EXTENDED NEARLY TO PALM
SPRINGS. BECAUSE OF DEPOSITS FROM THE SILT LADEN
COLORADO RIVER, THE NORTH END OF THE GULF (NOW
IN IMPERIAL COUNTY) WAS SEALED OFF AND LAKE CAHUILLA
WAS FORMED. LAKE CAHUILLA WAS CONSIDERABLY LARGER
THAN THE PRESENT DAY SALTON SEA. ITS ANCIENT SHORE-
LINE CAN STILL BE SEEN ON THE HILLS WEST OF THE SEA.
AFTER MANY THOUSANDS OF YEARS, LAKE CAHUILLA'S
WATERS RECEDED LEAVING A DRY LAKEBED. THE SALTON
SEA WAS FORMED BETWEEN 1905 AND 1907. THE COLORADO
RIVER WAS TAPPED NEAR YUMA, ARIZONA TO ALLOW
IRRIGATION WATERS TO FLOW INTO THE IMPERIAL VALLEY.
STORMS AND HIGH WATERS WASHED THROUGH THE CANALS
AND THE RIVER FLOWED ALMOST UNCHECKED INTO THE
SALTON BASIN. AFTER MUCH LABOR, MOSTLY PAID FOR BY
THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD, THE BREECH WAS CLOSED
IN 1907. WATER LEVEL WITHIN THE SEA IS NOW MAINTAINED
BY AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF, INFLOW FROM THE NEW, THE
ALAMO AND THE WHITEWATER RIVERS, AND BY RAINFALL.
THE SEA IS ABOUT 35 MILES LONG BY 15 MILES WIDE. IT
HAS A MAXIMUM DEPTH OF 50 FEET. ITS SALINITY IS SLIGHT-
LY GREATER THAN THE PACIFIC OCEAN. THE SURFACE OF
THE SALTON SEA AVERAGES AT 230 FEET BELOW SEA LEVEL.

THE SALTON SEA RECREATION AREA WAS DEDICATED APRIL 12, 1955

PLAQUE PLACED BY BILL HOLCOMB 
CHAPTER OF E CLAMPUS VITUS 
IN COOPERATION WITH THE STATE 
DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND
RECREATION, MAY 5, 1996

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