Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Abandonment: Lake Dolores / Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark - Newberry Springs, California

Waterpark - Newberry Springs, California
The Lake Dolores Waterpark, which also operated under the names Lake Dolores, Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark and Discovery Waterpark, opened in 1962 in the Mojave Desert just east of Barstow in the tiny town of Newberry Springs. The origins of the park can be traced back to the 1950's when a man named Bob Myers made a small lake from natural springs for his family to enjoy. Before long he opened a campground on the lake, and then began adding attractions.

Some credit this waterpark as the first modern waterpark in America. I couldn't find anything to corroborate that, but it certainly was one of the first.

In 1999 an employee used one of the water slides after the park had closed, but the catch pool didn't have enough water in it. The employee became a paraplegic, and was awarded a large settlement. That was the beginning of the end for Lake Dolores.
Mems Poe - Newberry Springs, California
The waterpark closed in 2000. It reopened under new ownership in 2002, but closed for good in 2004. The park has been sitting empty in the desert ever since. It has been sold piecemeal to other waterparks, with about half of the slides going to a waterpark in Canada.

This abandoned waterpark is incredibly interesting. The buildings look both retro and modern at the same time. This is due to the different themes the park had over the decades that it was open. Some structures are in good condition, others are beginning to fall apart. Vandals have found their way through most of the park, but a few places seem basically untouched.

In 2013, Trustocorp, "a New York based guerrilla art group dedicated to highlighting the hypocrisy and hilarity of human behavior," made their mark on Lake Dolores. Lots of other "artists" have spray painted on the buildings, as well.
Fear - Newberry Springs, California
The waterpark is haunting and fascinating at the same time. It is easy to imagine what the place was like in its heyday. It is easy to envision all sorts of activity and life. That imagination stands in stark contrast to what is left behind, decaying in the harsh desert.

In July of 2014 I trekked across the desert to photograph the Lake Dolores/Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark. The place is fenced off and there are some no-trespassing signs, but access is easy and nobody was there to chase me off.

I captured the photographs you see here using a Sigma DP2 Merrill camera. They were post-processed using Sigma Photo Pro Alien Skin Exposure software.
The Future Is Blight - Newberry Springs, California
Rock-A-Hoola - Newberry Springs, California
Andrea's Room - Newberry Springs, California
Broken Souls - Newberry Springs, California
The Kitchen Sink - Newberry Springs, California
Peerless - Newberry Springs, California
VIP - Newberry Springs, California
Tubes In A Row - Newberry Springs, California
Raco Outlets - Newberry Springs, California
The Maintenance Building - Newberry Springs, California
In Thru The Out Door - Newberry Springs, California
Delicious - Newberry Springs, California
Broken Old Sign - Newberry Springs, California
KCIS - Newberry Springs, California
Shoot Me - Newberry Springs, California
Hall Loves You - Newberry Springs, California
Are - Newberry Springs, California
Kid Slide - Newberry Springs, California
Orange Slide - Newberry Springs, California
Lazy River - Newberry Springs, California
Chair For Relaxing - Newberry Springs, California
Stairs To Slide Out of Service - Newberry Springs, California
Open Door Palm - Newberry Springs, California
Lazy River Bend - Newberry Springs, California
Also, check out this video:


1 comment:

  1. Great pics! Sad to see such fun places decay like this. Makes for interesting photography though ;)

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