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The desert beach that simply disappeared

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IT was once an arid desert that became a crowded beach — but now, it’s drying out once again.

Welcome to Bombay Beach, which is nowhere near India, but actually in the middle of the Colorado Desert.

Just over a century ago, however, the landscape in these parts altered dramatically, after the Colorado River burst its banks and flooded the place.

By the time the flowing waters had calmed down, they had created a brand-new sea, which was 15 miles by 35 miles, making it the largest lake in California.

Birds, people, businesses, yacht clubs, ice-cream vans and everything else you would expect to see by the seaside all flocked here, and it was one of the most-incredible natural transformations the USA had ever seen.

Soon, even schools and homes had sprung up, and nobody thought for a moment that it might all recede and disappear almost as quickly as it had arrived.

In the 1970s, however, with nowhere for the sea to drain out, hardly any rainfall, and pollution coming in from local farms, the new sea began to die.

Full of pesticides, with no fresh water coming in or the dirty stuff getting out, the fish started to die off, the birds could find nothing to eat, and the humans disliked the sight of countless fish skeletons littering the sand.

People would sell up, move out, and leave beach huts and chairs along with other detritus to simply rot where they stood, which, of course, all added to the general run-down appearance.

Even today, you can’t walk more than a few yards without seeing some evidence of how it was in its brief heyday.

It’s still, however, hard to imagine that there were motels, boatyards, posh swimming pools and endless rows of deckchairs here, along with seafood shops, grocery stores, and men and women doing a bit of fishing.

The old North Shore Yacht Club reopened six years ago as a community centre, but almost everything else is just rotting away.

Once a haven for sun worshippers and surfers and home to many, it now stands as an eerie, empty shell.


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