Slab City has been created by a small but committed community of squatters in the Colorado Desert of South Eastern California, USA. Taking its name from the concrete slabs that remain from an abandoned World War II base, it is a tragic yet romantic landscape that commands its residents to possess the same balance of beauty and beast. Unbearable temperature highs in summer weed out the many who inhabit the free space in winter leaving only the most resilient, or the most unfortunate, as permanent residents. These same people maintain the ad-hoc infrastructure that makes it such a desirable community to visit in the cooler months. Those who stay year after year could be described as poverty stricken; living in some of the worst conditions in America. Some residents would tell you this is the truth. Others fiercely defend their lifestyle as a deliberate choice of rejecting mainstream society. For these people Slab City provides a freedom they’d never experienced before. There are others who were forced here through circumstance; society won’t tolerate them due to their pasts as felons, addicts or vagrants, but who wholeheartedly embrace the opportunity to live in a community that won’t judge them. Slab City is a place for the broken and desperate and for the fierce defenders of freedom from tyranny. But more than anything else, it is what this small group of people call home. (text from Light Journeys)
More information about Slab City:
The Land of the Free (The Observer)
Parked in the Desert, Waiting out the Winter of Life (New York Times)
Light Journeys – Claire Martin
Facts about Slab City
Culturally enhanced desert boondock town.
View of Slab City from the top of Salvation Mountain
“The Range” built by a permanent “slabber” – Builder Bill. Every Saturday night the community gets together at The Range for music, socializing and all around fun.
The Range was also featured in Sean Penn’s film, “Into the Wild” with Emile Hirsch and Kristen Stewart. Check out a clip from The Range. ** Random fact: Builder Bill has been a resident at the Slabs for 13 years as of 2011. It wasn’t until 7-8 years after Chris McCandless passed through there that Bill settled in, so The Range didn’t actually exist until well after Chris McCandless’s stay there.
The Lizard Tree Library – open 24/7. Originally opened and run by a slabber who called herself Rosalie. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2003, but a memorial in her honor was left in front of the library. The library is run on the honor system – take a book, leave a book. Many of the books, magazines and anthologies have been donated by the seasonal “snowbirds” during their travels.
John and Dave outside the church waiting for the sermon to begin.
Pastor Pat preparing for his sermon. Prior to moving to the Slabs, he had extensive surgery for cancer and had a new outlook and view on life. When asked if he had a choice between “normal” life and life in the Slabs, he said he would chose the Slabs because you don’t experience the type of freedom in any other “society.”
Dave, John and Laura, the church’s congregation for the day.