Slab City – a so-called „Snowbird Community”/trailer park in the Sonora Desert in the Imperial County.
Snowbirds are diverse people. Some are from higher latitudes and colder climates in the northern parts of the USA and Canada.
To escape the cold days during winter the move to warmer places in the so-called “sunbelt of the southern United States”, Mexico or places in the Caribbean. Often it is a question of retirees’ who want to escape the cold winter and the warm summer. Others suffer from winter depression or SAD (seasonal depression) or people who are able to or exactly because of their work have to travel. Some Snowbirds have houses in other climate zones while others just take their home with them in terms of having an RV or something similar. Many Snowbirds make use of a vacational home, also to register them as permanent place of residence to save money on taxes or to enjoy a better health system.
Slab City got its name by the tiles that are left over by the Marine Corps caverns from World War 2.
For the most parts there are Snowbirds living here in the colder winter days. Nevertheless there are still 150 people living here permanently.
In summer there are 120°F (48°C) on a an average here while there are only 50°F to 32°F (10°C to 0°C) in winter. In Niland it is approximately raining 3in (76mm) per year.
Most of the “Slabbers”, which are living her permanently, finalize their stay by government programs and live in the “Slabs” because of poverty. Others live here to be independent and isolated. Again others just try to survive with their low retirement pay.
The barracks in Slab City are shut down and unregulated. That is one reason why there is a high criminality rate. The neighborhood officially does not have any running water nor any electricity, no waste pipes, bathrooms or waste disposal. Many residents use generators or solar panels to produce electricity. The only hint for any civilization is the 2.5mi (4km) far-out town Niland, where the residents go to get groceries and everything else they need. In Slab City rules anarchy.
The building of Camp Dunlap started in 1942 to prepare the US Marine Corps for war. In 1949 the military operation was drastically reduced. Until 1956 all the buildings were closed down and only some tiles are left over. Many years later a chemic corporation in Oakland hired 20 employers to harvest creosote. Some workers moved with their RV’s to the abandoned Camp Dunlap to be closer to work. That was the beginning of Slab City.
Attractions close by are:
- Salvation Mountain
- East Jesus
- The Range