Salvation Mountain


I’m featuring a blog that I only recently followed, a little over a month. I think you’ll understand why and will have an immediate liking as well – The Art of Devotion from China Sojourns Photography.



Most of us just say it. Express or read. We write letters, snail or e-mail. Books. Websites or blogs. We gesture, signal, and put up signs. Some of us play it in a form of music, singing or playing instruments. Through artistry. Sometimes, it’s through physical things like giving gifts. Through visuals, image or video. TV, movie, telephone, cellphone, computer and other visual aids and mediums.

For Leonard Knight he sent his messages in an unusual way. Leonard Knight painted a mountain.


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Made up of adobe, hays, straws, and gallons and gallons of paints, he inscribed Christian sayings and Bible verses on this mountain.

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All materials are from donations people provided him.

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After having seen a lot of his tour videos, perhaps the most definitive message he wanted to convey is “GOD IS LOVE.”

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He’s also proud, always mentioning, about the waterfall.

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– Waterfall, which is the blue and white stripes, lots of flowers, tree, The Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16 –

To the right of the mountain, he added a museum about 10 years ago.

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It is HUGE and high considering for a lone aging man! My favorite is this room or “igloo”.

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The ceilings are so cool.

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Six years ago, The Folk Art Society of America designated Salvation Mountain in Niland, California as a National Folk Art Site, worthy of protection and preservation.

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This next part saddened me in a hard way.

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Heartwrenching, Leonard Knight passed away last February 10, 2014.

He had so much more he wanted to add, esp. on the museum. An unfinished room next to the “igloo” …

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Leonard Knight worked on Salvation Mountain and the museum on a regular basis. He was happy. He looked so alive. And at the sametime, he was very willing to provide tours to visitors. He was eager to encourage the tourirsts to spread the word, his messages, be it in pictures or videos.

He wanted it for everyone to see.

He wanted it to keep his message simple and pure – God is Love.

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Here’s a movie clip from Into The Wild where Leonard Knight toured the main characters to his masterpiece.

43 replies »

    • I am covering some of the unusual places in California that I was itching to go when I was in Japan. Glad to be there, and glad to share it.

  1. You’re like the Richard Engel of WordPress. If there’s something noteworthy going on ANYWHERE, you’re there to investigate and report back on it. Can we chip in for gas money or sandwiches?
    Thanks you, thank you 🌯

    • I had to google the name first. And wow! Such a strong compliment thank you. This one is actually popular in California. This weekend, I really am going to investigate on French connections here in California that dates back to 1850’s. I hope to find as they are not easy to find. Thanks for the offers, but the pleasure is mine. You know what, erase that, I’m taking the burrito. 🌯 Ha! 😀

  2. Beautiful post, Rommel. The artist has shown his message through his art, and what a message he has left for the world to absorb in such a needed time.

    • I really felt so saddened, esp. having gone there. I saw a lot of videos. He looked so strong and alive for his age. Just looking at him on the videos, it’s heartbreaking. But yeah, he lived a free, fulfilling and meaningful life. I’m grateful to be one of the many who can share the message he wanted the world to hear.

  3. What an amazing place this must be…what a find. Perhaps more impressive is the man Leonard Knight who created this testament to the human spirit. I have never heard about Salvation Mountain or Leonard, but this post does him justice and what a special legacy to leave. Not sure how you found it and decided to explore, but well done. Appreciate the post, and spot light on my blog as well…very much appreciated. Cheers!

    • Thanks for that post, Randall. In a way, it’s a fitting opening for this post. Leonard Knight actually ran away from him surprising because he didn’t want to go to church. Plus, he flew here from a balloon. He really was an extraordinary, extraordinary unteresting man,

      • Indeed, I have read a bit more about him on the internet, his biography so to speak, and extraordinary barely comes close to describing him…what an incredible spirit he had. Much thanks for bringing this story out.

  4. I agree with Alexander, you always bring us surprises and sharing your wonderful experience! The room is absolutely amazing.

  5. Super interesting! Did he own the mountain? This reminds me a little of the Escadaria Selarón in Rio. He didn’t own the steps, but just started decorating them and eventually people started donating and they became famous. He recently passed too, but the steps covered in tiles are there in all their glory.

    • Ow, I googled it, The colorful, art-filled stairs. How I wish to see it myself. I bet people don’t consider it like a Banksy-type of graffiti. If you think about it, it really is. I guess the stairs just have a different kind of class to it. 😀 Fascinating! and how sad he could no longer continue.
      The thing with this place is that the location is a desert, literally. There’s a lot of emptiness there. People just come there, stay, and wherever they park, they claim it as their land. After the beauty he created on it. No contest. That mountain is his.

    • He’s modest enough to say that he didn’t consider himself as an artist. Well, of course, for us he is. He really just wanted to send those messages in an unorthodox way.

    • Which photos? All the photos here are mine. It’s all taken from Niland, California. My featured blog, Randall, whose photos are way awesome than mine, I guess, all were from China.

  6. For me this is a thought-provoking post, because there are a number of things that stand out. There is the art itself, how the artist has conveyed his message, and the message itself. I love the idea of using a whole mountainside to tell the world your message, but the difficulty for me is the message itself, which, due to my non-belief would tend to make me uncomfortable. A wonderful thing though to be able to put one’s heartfelt beliefs into something that can speak to the world, whether through art, books, drama, etc.

    Another of your unique posts Rommel! methinks we need to create a ‘Uniqueness Award’ for you! I’ll get my graphics tablet out!

    • Oh Jude, you gonna make me talk. 😀 It did make me think that for other visitors. But for blog-posting purpose, I only focused on the mountain and Leonard Knight and his message. And I’m with you, Jude. I’m Catholic on paper but not at all religious. Perhaps, this place is extra interesting for non-believers. Then again, just like you said, you don’t have to be a religious person to appreciate arts and creations. I go inside a church not to pray but look at architechture and designs. Another thing about Leonard Knight is that he once ran away because he didn’t want to go church. Watching his videos, he did seem like he’s not a big fan of churches. And then, he created this mountain and you can tell how devoted and faith-ful he was. For me, this really is so awe-inspiring. There’s gotta be some sort of influence this mountain and his genuine devotion to non-believers. I rather listen to him preach than that guy in the church podium.

  7. What an amazing place, Rommel. I love it when a person goes all out for his passion, and that’s exactly what Leonard did. Great share! I also find it so sad that he died before finishing his life’s work, but if he had lived for ever, would he ever be finished? 🙂

    • Urgh! You …. Good point, Sylvia. 😀 The museum is unfinished. (period) 😀 What really makes me sad is how recent it is. He looked so strong and able for his age before his death. I watched his videos, and I do “feel” him … a lot – his devotion, his passion and his genuiness.

  8. WOW, Rommel! This is a wonderful, most unique post I’ve seen you do so far. What a heart warming story of a man who wanted the world to know that God loved him and He loved God. And his message was that God loves ALL of us! There is only one sermon that should be preached which is John 3:16. Simple as Leonard’s. What a man; what a God he lived for and portrayed in his art! God bless you for sharing this!

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