I first discovered Leonard as most people did, through Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. The story about Christopher McCandless who set out on his own to learn what he was really about, and to live, truly live. This movie has changed my life, the story of Chris quickly affected me in such a deep way I had never felt with anyone else and become hero in my life. We shared the same love for travel, new experiences and using the road and the experiences to cut to the core of your being.
During his travels, Chris met lots of people that made it into the movie, including Leonard Knight and his piece of art, Salvation Mountain.
Leonard Knight has lived out in the desert of Niland, CA for more than 25 years. When he came to the desert here he was wanting to spread a message to the world. A message that, in his words, “Is going worldwide with a universal language, that God loves everyone he’s ever created, so don’t get complicated with love, keep it simple!”.
He began building his mountain atop an existing mound of desert soil and began to mold it, paint it, move it, shape it, stack on top of it until 25 years later we see the mountain here in the picture.
Salvation Mountain is protected and recognized by the US Congress as a national monument. The only piece of art the has the same recognition is Mt Rushmore. The mountain more than deserves the title, standing on top of this work of art is like standing on top of pure love. And to me is still one of the greatest men and experiences to ever come into my life. And just to know that Chris shared the same experience with Leonard… It doesn’t get much better than that.
“Preachers come up here and wanna preach on my mountain, I tell them nope, the mountain says all it needs to say. And churches all over the world, God bless their hearts, they’ve all gotten too complicated. They tell me ‘you don’t read the bible how do you know anything?’, Jesus teaches me! ‘Well who do you fellowship with?’ Jesus! After a few minutes I tell them Jesus everything and finally they simmer down a little bit and wander how this got into Congress and they didn’t? And I’m just sitting here with a wheel barrel, no educations and no smarts at all and my God it got into Congress.”