East Jesus and West Satan

January 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm (California) (, , )


This might be a peculiarly California thing:  a squatter city in the desert.  If you like Funky Artsy Fartsy weirdness like I do, you will feel right at home in Slab City, just east of Niland on the Salton Sea.  (Warning:  bad words ahead.  Get over it.)


I had heard about Slab City from co-workers who had been there.  Salvation Mountain, at the entrance to Slab City (see future blog post) is perhaps more famous, but you can see the influences of one upon the other.

The turnoff to East Jesus and West Satan.

The turnoff to East Jesus and West Satan.

Formerly Camp Dunlap, a WWII Marine artillery training base, squatters began moving in when it was dismantled in 1961, leaving only the concrete slabs.

IMG_4508-copyToday many people use this as a free three-season or permanent home, despite its lack of electricity.  Just find a patch of desert and call it yours.  Folks of many sorts are attracted to this lifestyle.  Some may even be “on the lam,” but many are just loners, or artsy types selling paintings or photography from their RVs or rickety trailers.  Or communes of eccentric, like-minded people making a statement.  A common refrain:  “It’s the last free place in America.”


As you can see, any bare surface cries out for graffiti and messages.

Think Tank

Think Tank

Whirled Peas

Imagine Whirled Peas (hee hee)


I think this is the “leaving Slab City” sign

The fork in the road (yes, there really IS a giant eating fork there) takes you to East Jesus (on the right) or West Satan.  I’m not sure if West Satan is open to the public, but East Jesus definitely is.  You can even ask for a personal tour of the installation art made entirely of recycled and discarded junk, er…. materials.

Devil Art Car

Devil Art Car

This car may have “escaped” from West Satan.  Art cars are a big part of East Jesus.


As a fan of mosaics, including those made of discards, I found an hour to be just about right as far as examining the creative weirdness here.  I would have gone on a tour if I wasn’t trying to get home before dark.

Computer guts

Computer guts

I think the residents of East Jesus have kept the local landfill from overflowing.

Car hood

Car hood

I have not figured out what these little metal bottles were used for. Anybody know?


Coffin memorial to Charlie Russell

Coffin memorial to Charles Russell

This guy might have been the founder of East Jesus.  He was obviously someone very special.  I’ll let you continue the art walk of East Jesus without further commentary.
















Despite its off-the-grid persona, Slab City does have several Facebook pages and websites.  This one even has online shopping for Slab City merchandise.  (ooh, ooh, bumperstickers!)


I’m sure the Slab City residents are used to gawkers, but do try to be respectful if you visit.

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com






  1. DesertAbba said,

    Apparently East Jesus is not the end of the world, but also apparently it can be seen from there! You should go into the travel-booking business, Rick Steves cannot begin to offer what you have.

  2. Jet Eliot said,

    So many worlds here on earth…great post Cindy!

  3. Salvation Mountain | Cindy McIntyre's Blog said,

    […] East Jesus, which is on the same road as West Satan and the Mike Bright Memorial Dumpster.  (Previous blog post.) The monikers might sound scary, and the look of the place won’t ease your mind.  But […]

  4. rusty94114 said,

    The small metal bottles look like CO2 cartridges. Like these:

  5. phenix stitz said,

    the small metal bottles are from whip its

  6. CDN Burner said,

    Little bottles are definitely empty nitrous oxide canisters used for “whipits” as previous poster mentioned. Whipits provide a several minute high and users tend to go through a lot of canisters in a single session. They are hard / impossible to recycle – nice to see a second use as art.

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