Salton Sea Test Base, California

Once a test area on the southwest edge of the Salton Sea, the base is now abandoned, with all or most of the buildings torn down. The navy first used it as seaplane base in the 1930s. In the 1940s, it was used as a base to help develop the nuclear weapons being developed at Los Alamos. Water-based targets and photographic stations on shore would study the performance and ballistics of the test bombs, which did not have nuclear or explosive components. This continued into the 1950's, as the area was used by Sandia National Labs, the nation’s nuclear bomb builder, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as its primary ballistics range. In 1960, Sandia moved this operation to the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. The Navy continued to use the Salton Sea Test Base through the 1970s, and over 1,100 missile and bomb tests were performed here. Though there were reports of military activities at the site as recently as the Gulf War, the site was flooded by the slowly rising Salton Sea, and was abandoned for years. In the 1990s, clean up began, and has been completed, to a degree. It is now visited by the public on ATVs, as its access road is covered by blowing sand dunes.