Old Photos Of The Salton Sea Navy Test Base

The United States Base Closure and Realignment act put the Salton Sea Naval Test Station on the list to be closed in 1998 even though it had been virtually abandoned for several years prior to that.  As part of the base closure it was necessary to perform a full Environmental Baseline Survey (EBS) and Site Inspection to document any health or environmental issues for cleanup.  This report was a joint effort between the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Regional Water Quality Board, Imperial County and the U.S. Department of Energy.  The photos below are from the final EBS report.

This overhead view of the test base taken in 1947 shows the main area including the boat dock, sea plane hangers, and apartments, all within less than 1 square mile.  The actual land under control of the base extended several miles in all directions and included remote camera sites on the border of Salton City and in the Truckhaven hills.

Overhead photo of the Salton Sea Navy Base in 1947

Overhead view of the boat dock and main base


This photo taken in 1950 shows the entrance road into the base from what is now Highway 86.

Salton Sea Test Base highway entrance

Navy Base highway entrance, 1950


The next two photos show the administration building and instrument lab, located in the main-base area.

Photo of the Salton Sea Test Base Administration building

Base Administration Building, 1950

1951 picture of the Salton Sea Navy Base Instrumentation Laboratory

Instrumentation Laboratory, 1951


This photo, also from 1951 shows the “San Felipe Lodge”, a large living facility with 54 rooms, six apartments, and dining and recreational areas.  The lodge had to be abandoned in 1977 because of the rising water levels.

San Felipe Lodge at Salton Sea

San Felipe Lodge, 1951


The motor pool service station was located in the center of the main base-area, a few hundred yards from shore.

1951 photo of the Motor Pool Gas and Service Station at the Salton Sea Navy Base

Motor Pool Gas & Service Station, 1951


The photo below shows the tennis courts, located in the main base area after an accidental bomb drop. Even though the bombs used at the base were “inert” and non-explosive, they were made to be the exact size, shape, and weight of real atomic bombs.  In this case, the bomb that was dropped on the tennis courts from and altitude of several thousand feet weighed several thousand pounds.  The intended bomb target was later moved to prevent any more such accidents.

Bomb crater in the tennis court at the Salton Sea Navy Base

Bomb crater in the tennis court, 1951

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