Salvation Mountain

the Mountain

The First Mountain

    After Leonard's balloon refused to fly, he decided to leave the area. Forever trying to promote what was burning so deeply inside of him, Leonard decided to stay one more week to make a "small statement" before he left for wherever his van and his faith would take him. Armed with half of a bag of cement, he fashioned a small
"I was just going to stay one week. It's been a very good week" L.Knight 1996
monument. One thing turned into another - days turned into weeks and weeks turned into years. Each day, Leonard would put a little more cement and a little more paint on the side of a forgotten riverbank. 

    As his monument grew taller and taller, he would pack old junk he found at the dump onto the side of his "mountain," fill it with sand and cover it with cement and paint. As cement was hard to come by, he would mix a lot of (too much) sand with it. Leonard's mountain grew and grew - 30, 40, 50 feet and more. It was the same familiar patchwork of colors emblazoned 
"I used to spend half a day at the dump to find half a gallon of paint of which only half was usable." L.K. 
with a big red "God Is Love" on a white background. Below that was the Sinners Prayer and a red heart. It was quite a spectacle out there in the middle of nowhere. 

    One day after about four years of work, with the instability of all of that sand undermining it's structure, the mountain fell down into a heap of rubble, sand, and weak cement. Instead of being discouraged, Leonard thanked the Lord for showing him that the mountain wasn't safe. He vowed to start once again and to "do it with more smarts."

 Leonard and the original Salvation Mountain  Leonard and his fallen mountain
  Photo courtesy Larry Yust   Photo courtesy Larry Yust

The Second Mountain

     Leonard had been experimenting with the native adobe clay and had been using it on other parts of the mountain. Over the next several years, he rebuilt his mountain using adobe mixed with straw to hold it all together. It evolved into what it is today. As he fashions one part or another with clay, he coats it with paint. This keeps the wind and the rain from eroding it away. The more paint, the thicker the coat, the better and stronger it becomes. People come from all over with donations of paint. He uses it very liberally. Leonard estimates that he has put well over 100,000 gallons of paint on his mountain. 

(continue)  the Toxic Nightmare

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