Posts Tagged ‘Salvation Mountain


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Salvation Mountain

We ventured forth to Salvation Mountain, just East of Niland, California off Hwy 111. Prior photo shoots and write ups on the mystical site had definitely piqued our interest. It seemed to be a probably interesting excursion. Well, actually it was more interesting than I had expected. Yes, there are the vivid colors and contours and biblical expressions. But, there were small rooms, I had never seen before as well as I got a real sense of the construction process. It made it all the more fascinating to glimpse the behind the scenes process and those that struggle to maintain the landmark.

Salvation Mountain-SwittersB-large view

Leonard Knight, the original visionary for the site, started the monument to salvation, redemption, something bigger than himself in 1985. He passed on in 2014 and it appears others are attempting to maintain the adobe/paint of the site. A cult following of sorts defends the site for the biblical concepts and for Knight’s individualism, his determination, his living in a remote area, his guru aura, his kindness. Regardless of why people come, it is a cool site and truly worth a visit. Look beyond your biases here. Many notable people have visited this site, realizing the spiritual intent and inner beauty. Now for some more images.

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Cuervo: Nomad & Mules

While coming out of Salvation Mountain into Niland, California yesterday, my wife and I came upon a character. A disheveled man was leading two mules and a dog toward shade…an abandoned Mexican restaurant’s front porch area. We stopped and conversed with the man, who identified himself as Cuervo. And, ‘Yes you can take my picture for five bucks!”.


My wife snapped away as I talked to Cuervo. He was calm, measured and talkative. He related stories of Mexico, arrests, the transient lifestyle, all the while easily moving about posing and feeding his mules. His dog hid in the shade. It was an interesting enough experience.

CUERVO-Bucky-mules and dog

But, later that day, I wondered if that was a random event with Cuervo or a staged photo op for camera touting tourists coming down out of Salvation Mountain feeling the good vibes of that experience and coming upon Cuervo! Hmmm? What were the odds if I queried ‘Cuervo’ & ‘Niland’.

Well low and behold Cuervo (Craig Kline) does attract a bit of attention (mostly positive) and that was alright. A Nomad with Mules that hustles to survive is a step up from the guys hustling the freeway exits with dogs, etc. in Portland. Perhaps they are just missing the mules, but I am rarely driven to talk to them or photograph them. A difference in circumstances and locale I suppose…all relative. 

Here are a few of Cuervo’s entries: His Facebook page someone created…and a couple more interesting pieces from folks finding Cuervo’s nomadic life interesting  Banderas News & Cuervo Passed Through 

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Salvation Mountain: Leonard Knight Passed On

I have been intrigued by Salvation Mountain for a photographic experience for quite a few years. After several trips to the region over the years, I have yet to make it there. It would have been most interesting to be there while the creator of the site was alive. But, Leonard Knight passed on this past month. There are so many unique photography opportunities near the Salton Sea. We may yet make it to this area for exploration and bunch of ‘OMG’ exclamations.

“If somebody gave me $100,000 a week to move somewhere and live in a mansion and be a big shot, I’d refuse it,” he said. “I want to be right here. It’s amazing, isn’t it?”

Leonard seemed to have his spiritual self dialed in and I am sure his spiritual self is still wafting about Salvation Mountain.

salvation mtn la times

L.A. Times Photo Archive


Salvation Mountain/Slab City on the map

Salvation Mountain from the air, Niland, California

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March 2020

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