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A Dead Town on a Dead Sea

North ShorE

Riverside County, California


Gary B. Speck



NORTH SHORE is one of Riverside County’s best kept secrets.  This Class D ghost is a funky, dying, mostly boarded up old town sitting 205 feet BELOW Sea Level on the northeastern shore of the Salton Sea. It straddles State Highway (SH) 111 about nine miles southeast of Mecca. The 2000 census population was about 500, but it looks like a lot less now.


Remains include a two-story motel, dead marina/yacht club and a closed market. Scattered mobile homes and other structures dot the desert around it, especially to the north. West of SH 111 is the remains of the marina and “commercial district,” while east of the highway (and railroad) is the residential district comprising mostly of scattered mobile homes in two distinct clusters.  That area was shown on maps as North Shore Estates until 1977.


Beginning in 1958, Salton Sea State Park was established (south of town) and visitation began along with development around the shoreline of the inland sea. In 1959, the state park had 329,611 visitors, a number that was surpassed in the first 10 months of 1960.  The boom was on.


Just north of the park entrance, Ray Ryan and Trav Rogers established North Shore in 1958.  Two years later construction of the $400,000 North Shore Yacht Club

& Marina and the adjacent 48-unit, two-story North Shore Motel occurred.  They were built to accommodate Hollywood celebrities and other visitors to the rapidly growing Salton Sea resort trade. Motel guests also had full guest privileges at the yacht club. A restaurant and housing development were established across the street, and luaus, barbeques, water skiing, fishing derbies, moonlight steak rides and other activities brought the people. The full service marina included a boat hoist, concrete boat launching ramp, fuel and repair facilities docks and a landing with boat rentals and a marine hardware store, sporting goods & bait sales and a snack bar. It was capable of serving 400 boats. There was also a playground for families.  Palm trees and night lighting were its beauty points.  In 1963, this marina was one of 12 active marinas and landings located around the Salton Sea.  The Yacht Club was designed by Albert Frey, a noted “Desert Architecture” architect.  The motel also had a large swimming pool and a tennis and shuffleboard court.


In 1964, the Salton Sea Shoreline Guide mentioned that the North Shore Trailer Park was under construction, and would soon have full hookups to attract permanent residents as well as overnight visitors.


A 1966 advertisement showed the Corvina Cove Apartments and motel, as well as “The Anchor” (restaurant/lounge). 


A post office was in established here on April 02, 1962 as a rural station of the Mecca Post Office. In 1966 it became a rural branch, and in 1995 it was still in operation.  It closed prior to 2002, so mail is currently being delivered from the Mecca Post Office.


A landing strip is shown about a quarter mile west of the marina on GNIS, the BLM and AAA maps from 1972-78 and is detailed on a California airfields website.  It appears to have been built between 1962 and 1966 as it is listed as the North Shore (Beach Estates) airport on a 1966 aeronautical chart, but not on the 1962 edition. In 1968, it had a 2250' paved runway, and in 1977 was listed with a 2065' unpaved runway. By 1982 it was not listed in aeronautical charts or publications as an active airport, so it appears that it fell victim to the double tropical storm flooding in 1977/1978 that raised the water level of the sea.


On Sep 10, 1976, Tropical Storm Kathleen roared out of the Gulf of California, pounding the region with torrential rains. Then on Aug 18, 1977, Tropical Storm Doreen followed in Kathleen’s footsteps. The Sea’s level rose dramatically and all the shoreside developments were flooded, including North Shore. 


The Salton Sea sits in the bottom of a large formerly dry lake or sink almost as deep as Death Valley, to which there is no outlet.  The only outflow is via evaporation, which in the mineral-laden desert leaves the water salty. This plus the influx of fertilizers and other pollutants from nearby towns and farming areas, especially to the south, have seriously crippled recreational use of the lake.  Today it is in dire straits.  Salinity levels have increased to the point where both bird and fish life is seriously impacted, only Tilapia still surviving.  However, they are subject to mass die-offs, and afterward, their dried carcasses line the shores of the dying sea. Fish & Chips anyone?


After 1977 the shoreline quickly ghosted as the former developments were seriously damaged by the twin tropical storms.  At North Shore the yacht club and motel finally closed in 1984.


On the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Riverside County map, the Marina/Yacht Club, Landing Strip and “Estates” were all shown separately from 1971-1981. From that point on, there is only one “map dot” for North Shore.  The boat launching ramp was shown as late as 1982. The Google hybrid satellite photo shows scattered homes in “The Estates” area and in the marina area and the landing strip is barely visible just off the beach area to the northwest.


A 2006 online government map shows the marina status as closed – which pretty much is the status of the entire town, at least as a functioning community.  Looking around North Shore is a study that shows many economic factors contribute to ghost town formation, including tourism booms and lack of tourism busts.  North Shore, California is truly a dead town on a dead sea, and a fascinating place to explore. 


OCTOBER 24, 2009 - UPDATE!!!

On this date, a visit to North Shore revealed a number of MAJOR changes.  The old motel was torn down in 2008.  The yacht club was undergoing a major renovation, and now houses the Salton Sea Museum.  The sea’s surface level has dropped, and much more of the marina shoreline is exposed.  For recently departed ghost towns, and those that have seen significant losses/changes, visit our ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST page.


When you do visit, please respect the rights of the property owners and abide by the Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics


This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


Population figures:

  • 1970 - 200/400 (seasonal)
  • 1980 – 350
  • 1990 – 500
  • 2000 - 500



·        MARINA

·        NW¼ Sec 34, T7S, R10E, San Bernardino Meridian

·        Latitude: 33.5094710 / 33º 30' 34" N

·        Longitude: -115.9230530 / 115º 55' 23" W


·        “ESTATES”

·        W½ Sec 27, T7S, R10E, San Bernardino Meridian

·        Latitude: 33.52863

·        Longitude: -115.93387



·        NE¼ Sec 33, T7S, R10E, San Bernardino Meridian

·        Latitude: 33.52510

·        Longitude: -115.94252



This was our Ghost Town of the Month for May-Jul 2009

(It was featured for three months as I was writing the editorial for a new book)



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FIRST POSTED:  September 01, 1998

LAST UPDATED: June 05, 2010


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