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|Location||Colorado Desert, California|
|Location||Colorado Desert, California|
Slab City or The Slabs (located at Coordinates: ) is a snowbird campsite in the Colorado Desert in southeastern California, used by recreational vehicle owners and squatters from across North America. It takes its name from the concrete slabs that remain from the abandoned World War II Marine barracks of Camp Dunlap.
Several thousand campers, many of them retired, use the site during the winter months. These "snowbirds" stay only for the winter, before migrating north in the spring to cooler climates. The temperatures during the summer are unforgiving (as high as 120 °F) (48 °C); nonetheless, there is a group of around 150 permanent residents who live in the Slabs all year round. Some of these "Slabbers" derive their living by way of government checks (SSI, Social Security, and Social Security Disability) and have been driven to the Slabs through poverty. Others have moved to The Slabs to learn how to live off the grid and to be left alone. Still others have moved there to stretch their retirement income.
The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, and there is no charge for parking. The camp has no electricity, no running water, no sewers nor toilets, and no trash pickup service. Many campers use generators or solar panels to generate electricity. Supplies can be purchased in nearby Niland, California, located about four miles (6 km) to the southwest of Slab City.
Camp Dunlap, in which The Slabs now sits, was expected to prepare the United States Marine Corps for combat duty.
Military operations at Camp Dunlap had been greatly reduced and a skeleton crew continued until the base was dismantled.
All buildings were ordered to be dismantled and the slabs remained.
As of October 6, 1961, a quitclaim deed conveying the land to the State of California was issued by the Department of Defense as it was determined the land was no longer required. The deed did not contain any restrictions, a recapture clause, or any restoration provisions. All of the former Camp Dunlap buildings had been removed. The remaining slabs were not proposed for removal. Later legislation required that revenue generated from this property go to the State Teachers’ Retirement System.
At some point, a chemical company in Oakland, California hired 20 men to harvest creosote leaves near Niland. Some of the workers moved closer to their work by living in small trailers at the abandoned Camp Dunlap. This was the start of what is now called Slab City.
Riverside County ordered people to leave a camping area at Painted Canyon near Mecca, California. These people had all sorts of living arrangements. Besides the trailers, there were cardboard and plywood shacks, all sorts of vehicles and school buses. Some migrated to what is now Bombay Beach, Georgetown which is south of the Fountain of Youth and the abandoned Marine Training Base Camp Dunlap, now known as Slab City.
Located just east of State Route 111, the entrance to Slab City is easily recognized by the colorful Salvation Mountain, a small hill approximately three stories high which is entirely covered in acrylic paint, concrete and adobe and festooned with Bible verses. It is a project of over two decades by Leonard Knight.
East Jesus is an experimental, sustainable, habitable, art installation located in the Slab City area. There is no religious connotation in the name East Jesus – it's a colloquialism for the middle of nowhere beyond the edge of services; the off-grid facility operates with no municipal utilities. In early 2007, Charlie Russell left his job in the technology industry, packed all his belongings into a shipping container sent to a trash-strewn field, and began to surround his two art cars with the sculptures that would become the foundation works of East Jesus. The Chasterus Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, was formed after his passing in 2011 and has since guided the curation and expansion of East Jesus.
Made from discarded material that has been reused, recycled, or repurposed, East Jesus encourages visitors to imagine a world without waste in which every action is an opportunity for self-expression. Assemblage and mixed-media art covers nearly every inch of the interior and exterior. Sculptures and installations are constantly in development throughout the campus, and their musical performance space holds a PA, stage lighting system, even a studio grand piano. Photography, multi-media art, performance art, writing, and music are an integral part of the larger fabric which the collective artists are continually weaving. East Jesus is a living, growing, and ever-changing artwork that embraces the varied voices of the thousands of contributing artists who have added to the installation. Every day, residential staff give dozens of free tours and host visiting artists and overnight guests.
The Range is an open-air nightclub complete with stage, lights, amplifiers, speakers and tattered couches and old chairs for seating. Every Saturday night at about dusk, the locals and visitors meet for a Talent Show that features permanent resident musicians and anyone else who wants to get up on stage and perform. The venue is run by an old time resident of 14 years named Builder Bill.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Slab City.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Niland.|