Life in Slab City; An American Squat Town

Mar 28, 2012 3:29pm

Nestled three miles east of the California Hwy 111, at the foothills of the Chocolate Mountains in the Colorado Desert,  lies a small community of year round campers called Slab City.
Photography by:  Yvonne Albinowski

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This area was the site of Camp Dunlap originally constructed in 1942 as marine barracks for WW2. This military base would soon be demolished and abandoned just four years later. The only evidence of its existence are the concrete slabs that remain on the site.   Moth is seen feeding the chickens that he raises right beside his home known as “The Tank”, which is an old water tank once used by the base.

 

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Leonard Knight spent the past 26 years of his life constructing a mountain made out of straw, adobe, and thousands of gallons of paint. Many biblical messages and verses can be seen painted all along the sides of the mountain.

 

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Dave Huntington lives in the Slabs with his partner Lzi.   Slab City, has undoubtedly become a domicile for wayfarers of all walks of life. It is an area of land that belongs to the state, but has evidently been disregarded and therefore has become a place to settle for free.

 

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A pile of old TVs. One of many sculptures made  out of old car parts, desert glass, and found objects by fellow “Slabbers”.  With no running water and no electricity, the people of The Slabs have been forced to subsist with the basic necessities and have taken no more and no less.

 

 

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Lzi lives in Slab City with Dave Huntington.

 

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Salvation Mountain was built by Leonard Knight over the course of 26 years. It is made of adobe, straw, and paint.  The “Slabbers” focus on generating solar power, creating earthquake monitors, and speaking eloquently about ambitions, dreams, and what once was.

 

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Ayla traveled to Slab City with only a backpack and her dog.  At Slab City, they have fought with social and political intricacies and have arrived here at The Slabs where they can live free of these constraints. It is a place to be heard and not heard at the same time.

 

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W. Ray Moss has spent years traveling across the United States on foot with a wooden cross in tow. He now resides in Slab City with his wife Magenta.

 

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Kat Bastard and his wife Penny. They are newly weds who inherited one of the largest camping spaces that exists in Slab City after the former owner passed away.

 

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An abandoned row of shoes just outside of Slab City.

 

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Scooter is a long time resident of Slab City. He and his partner Angel run Karma Kitchen, a place where they serve up free food for donations.

 

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The Haven is one of two churches located in Slab City. Rick Webber is the minister/director of The Haven.

 

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Abby and Moth are seen kissing at the end of the day. Moth lives in a water tank once used by the military base.  Solidarity, peace, and human expression radiate throughout this forlorn land and the sheer magnificence of the days last sign of sunlight embraces you much like the residents who live there.

 

Photographer Yvonne Albinowski has been exploring the American landscapes with a focus on abandoned desert towns, since graduating from School of Visual Arts in 2004.   For More Work Please visit her website here.

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