North Shore

After the accidental creation of the Salton Sea (the full story can be found on the Bombay Beach page), a handful of communities were established along its shoreline. Among the first, and certainly the first on the northern shore, was Date Palm Beach. In 1926, Gus Eilers (with the help of Bay area promoter John Goldthwaite) acquired land from the Southern Pacific Railroad near the Mortmar train station. Eilers planned for an exotic escape, using Egyptian motifs and Middle Eastern architecture. Development was slow, with Eilers traveling back and forth from Mecca and having to transport his own water, staying in a tent for the first few years, until the first small building and pier were constructed in 1930.

Unfortunately, after the Stock Market crashed in 1929, the Eilers-Goldthwaite partnership dissolved. Nevertheless, Eilers was persistant. He moved two Olympic cottages from Los Angeles in 1932, and they served as the first guest houses in Date Palm Beach. Soon, a new 200-foot pier was erected. Eilers' wife and children joined him in 1934 to run the business, and Date Palm Beach did well for itself through World War II, when soldiers visited from nearby bases.

In 1946, the Eilers family sold Date Palm Beach to C. Roy Hunter, who renamed the place Desert Beach. The Desert Beach Yacht Club was established, and their clubhouse was known as the "Wheelhouse," even featuring the wheel off the USS Nebraska battleship (on which Hunter formerly served). Unfortunately, the improvements Hunter made to Desert Beach proved to be for naught. In 1948, the Sea's level began to rise. By 1953, all improvements along the waterfront were a total loss. Litigation was brought against the Coachella Valley County Water District and the Imperial Irrigation District, but Hunter died before the case was decided in 1960, in favor of Desert Beach's new owners.

The next major development began in 1958, when developers Ray Ryan and Trav Rogers purchased a tract of land about a half mile north of Desert Beach to begin construction on "North Shore." Plots of land were sold, and in 1960 construction was started on the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club (designed by Albert Frey) and the North Shore Motel. Both opened in 1962, and North Shore's $2 million marina was one of the largest in Southern California. For a number of years, North Shore was a popular place for celebrities like the Beach Boys and Jerry Lewis. Unfortunately, like other communities around the Salton Sea, fluctuating water levels as well as increasing salinity and contamination of the waters plagued North Shore. A flood in 1981 destroyed the jetty, rendering the marina unusable, and in 1984 the Yacht Club closed.

Today, abandoned buildings and the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club still stand at North Shore (though the motel was leveled in 2008). The Beach & Yacht Club, after decades of vacancy, was restored in 2009-10 and reopened as the Salton Sea History Museum. While that museum moved to Mecca in 2012, the building is still maintained and used as a community center and for private events. At Desert Beach, a several occupied mid-century homes remain, and at old Date Palm Beach, what's left of Hunter's lost improvements, submerged for years, are sure to resurface soon as water levels continue to recede.

I Visited North Shore
2.23.2020

See Also
Bombay Beach

Bibliography