Salvation Mountain

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Coordinates: 33°15′15″N 115°28′21″W / 33.25417°N 115.47250°W / 33.25417; -115.47250

Salvation Mountain.

Salvation Mountain is an art installation covering a hill in the Colorado Desert, north of Calipatria near Slab City, and several miles from the Salton Sea. It is in Imperial County, California.

The artwork is made from adobe, straw, and thousands of gallons of paint. Salvation Mountain was created by local resident Leonard Knight (1931–2014).[1] It encompasses numerous murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses.[2]

The Folk Art Society of America declared it "a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection"[3] in the year 2000. In an address to the United States Congress on May 15, 2002, California Senator Barbara Boxer described it as "a unique and visionary sculpture... a national treasure... profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives".[4]

In December 2011, the 80-year old Knight was placed in a long-term care facility in El Cajon for dementia.[5] Leonard Knight died February 10, 2014, in El Cajon.[6]

Concern has been raised for the future of the site, which requires constant maintenance due to the harsh surrounding environment. Many visitors bring paint to donate to the project, and a group of volunteers has been working to protect and maintain the site.[7][8][9] In 2012 a public charity, Salvation Mountain, Inc., was established to support the project.[10]

Media appearances[edit]

  • Jarvis Cocker visited Salvation Mountain and interviewed Leonard Knight in 1999 for his three episode series on Outsider art "Journeys Into The Outside With Jarvis Cocker".[11]
  • Leonard Knight is interviewed at length in the 2004 documentary Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea. In this documentary he explains the inspiration for Salvation Mountain and the hopes he has for its role in a revival of the Salton Sea area.
  • The site was featured in the 2007 film Into the Wild. The film was written and directed by Sean Penn, based on a 1996 non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer about Christopher McCandless' travels. McCandless met Leonard Knight at Salvation Mountain. Knight appears in a scene in the film as himself.
  • The music video for the British band Hurts's song "Somebody to Die For" was filmed on the Salvation Mountain.[12]
  • Huell Howser did two interviews ten years apart for his series California's Gold. In the second interview, he compares the changes made since the first interview.[13]


  1. ^ Leonard Knight passed away February 10, 2014 in El Cajon, California following a long illness.
  2. ^ Tony, Perry. "Salvation Mountain is missing its guiding spirit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 February 2012. [dead link]
  3. ^ Larry Yust. "The Interactive Mountain of Leonard Knight", "Folk Art Society of America"
  4. ^ Barbara Boxer. "Leonard Knight and Salvation Mountain", 107th Congress, 2nd Session Issue: Vol. 148, No. 62
  5. ^ The Desert Sun: Leonard Knight, father of Salvation Mountain, dies" . accessed 02.11.2014.
  6. ^ L.A. Observed: "Leonard Knight, desert creator of Salvation Mountain was 82" . accessed 02.11.2014.
  7. ^ "The Future Of Salvation Mountain Uncertain". Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  8. ^ Honore, Marcel (August 12, 2012). "Who will save Salvation Mountain?". The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA). 
  9. ^ Honore, Marcel (November 12, 2012). "Return to Salvation Mountain". The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA). 
  10. ^ Organizational ProfileNational Center for Charitable Statistics (Urban Institute)
  11. ^
  12. ^ Hurts homepage
  13. ^ Howser, Huell (January 8, 1997). "Slab City (806)". California's Gold. Chapman University Huell Howser Archives.  And, Howser, Huell (September 7, 2009). "Desert Adventures – California's Gold Special (142)". California's Gold. Chapman University Huell Howser Archive. 

External links[edit]