Now, I am not a rocket scientist. Shocking. I know. But, even I know that lakes need and in-flow and an out-flow. In the case of the Salton Sea, it has neither. This "sea" was formed completely on accident. For eons, the Colorado River had been trying to make a delta into the Gulf of California. In doing this, the river changed course often and at one time the Salton Basin was filled with so much water that it is thought to have been the largest freshwater lake in the world spanning from Mexico and the Gulf of California to Indio, California. Hence, the name "sea" instead of "lake."
In 1905, engineers were still trying to control the Colorado River when a dam in the river broke pouring water back into this now dry basin. For nearly two years, water dumped into this area creating the modern-day Salton Sea. At first, this was a welcomed change for the basin. The fresh water was positively lovely and resorts along the newly formed "French Riveria of California" were popping up. Tourism was booming. Yacht clubs and golf courses sprung up over night as the area was quickly becoming the "it" hang out spot.
As the lake became more saline, ocean fish were used to stock the lake versus fresh water fish. And, for reasons, I don't quite understand, no one wonder ever stopped and wondered "hmm... what is going to happen to this already salty lake that has no water flow either in or out." Sure enough, after decades of agriculture run-off, lack of circulation, and increasingly high salt levels the fish started to die off. And, not just one or two fish at a time. Massive amounts of dead fish rose to the surface covering the entire lake. Today, the lake has a salinity level 25% high than the Pacific Ocean and ain't no body into that life.
So, just like that, the Salton Sea and its neighboring communities became completely abandoned by tourists. What was left behind in the wake was swaths of empty buildings and decaying boats. Today, the area is nothing but a mass fish grave. It is now one of California's most abandoned ghost towns. Visiting this area, it is extremely hard to imagine that it was ever "thriving" in any sense of the word.