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Creator Of Salvation Mountain, An Epic Desert Monument, Dies at 82

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Leonard Knight, the creator of Salvation Mountain, one of the most oddly beautiful landmarks in California, died yesterday at the age of 82.

Knight was the creator behind the adobe-clad mountain, which lies near the Salton Sea in the Colorado Desert and has become a must-see attraction for area tourists. The massive, colorful mountain stands nearly three stories high and has been an ever-expanding labor of love until Knight was admitted to a San Diego care facility in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Knight, a Korean War veteran, arrived at the Colorado Desert 30 years ago from Vermont and originally planned to create a hot air balloon to get his message across, the Times reports. Since 1984, he lived in a broken down fire truck at the mountain's base, carefully tending to his beautiful creation and welcoming curious visitors to his masterpiece. Photographer Aaron Huey, who visited the mountain numerous times and even helped Knight with adding to it, likened Knight's vigilance at the mountain, "to sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree or in Muhammad's cave."

Throughout the creation of the mountain, Knight's message was clear: he wanted to bring forth his statement of God's love the best way he knew how.

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"It's simple to get saved, everyone in the world can get saved if they do one thing," Knight said. "You don't go to a Baptist/Catholic/Methodist/Seventh Day Adventist or Mormon church. You don't go to a man-made church to love Jesus. If you love Jesus, tell him so."

Salvation Mountain became a National Folk Art site in 2010. It was also featured in the 2007 film Into the Wild.

Here's a wonderful video of Knight and Salvation Mountain which shows just how special it is: