Do you know about Salvation Mountain?

by Coachella Valley | February 22, 2019 6:55 pm

Salvation Mountain 

Cover Photo Salvation Mountain by Tassanee Photography

The year 1967 found Leonard back in San Diego visiting his sister Irene. She was always talking about the Lord and it sort of bothered Leonard. One morning to escape her sermonizing, Leonard went out of the house to sit in his van. To this day he really doesn’t know why, but he started repeating the Sinner Prayer – “Jesus, I’m a sinner, please come upon my body and into my heart.” It was on that Wednesday at 10:30 in the morning in his van all by himself at age 35 he accepted Jesus into his heart and he hasn’t been the same ever since. His passion has been unwavering. 

Salvation Mountain by Christopher Wayne Allwine[1]

Salvation Mountain by Christopher Wayne Allwine

Leonard Knight, the lean and sturdy New Englander spent three decades joyously painting religious messages on a tall mound of adobe he called Salvation Mountain in the Coachella Valley.

The mountain is a sloping, terraced hill about three stories tall and 100 feet long and crowned with a cross 

The artwork is made from adobe, straw, and thousands of gallons of paint. Salvation Mountain was created by local resident Leonard Knight (1931–2014).  It encompasses numerous murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses, though its philosophy was built around the Sinner’s Prayer.

Salvation Mountain by Jim Civello[2]

Salvation Mountain by Jim Civello

The Folk Art Society of America declared it “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection” in the year 2000. In an address to the United States Congress on May 15, 2002, California Senator Barbara Boxer described it as “a unique and visionary sculpture… a national treasure… profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives”.

Much of the paint was donated by “snowbirds” arriving in the area for the winter warmth. “God has a way of supplying my needs,” Knight said. 

In his native Vermont, he had been a welder, handyman, guitar teacher, painter and body-and-fender man.

He played himself in a small part in the 2007 movie “Into the Wild,” directed by Sean Penn, with a scene set at Salvation Mountain.

Salvation Mountain by Jill Hayes[3]

Salvation Mountain by Jill Hayes

Revelation is the ninth studio album by American Christian rock band Third Day, released on July 29, 2008. The album cover is of Salvation Mountain with the song titles of Revelation composed on it, “to send [Third Day’s] own message of God’s love to the world”. According to bassist Tai Anderson, the idea to use Salvation Mountain as the album cover art was lead vocalist Mac Powell’s idea

Leonard Knight died February 10, 2014, in El Cajon.[6]

Concern has been raised for the future of the site, which requires constant maintenance due to the harsh surrounding environment. Many visitors bring paint to donate to the project, and a group of volunteers has been working to protect and maintain the site. In 2012, a public charity, Salvation Mountain, Inc., was established to support the project.

Salvation Mountain area by Peter Tellone[4]

Salvation Mountain area by Peter Tellone

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