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Salvation Mountain: A Man Who Built a Mountain When His Plans Failed to Soar

I’m deeply inspired by a good guy who somehow found his life’s purpose when his plans to soar never took off. Leonard Knight built a hot air balloon, but the material rotted, so he decided to stay out in the desert another couple of weeks. He never quite left California’s desolate Imperial Valley. Instead, Leonard Knight created an epic piece of artwork over three decades. People travel from all over to see this wonder. They call it Salvation Mountain.

salvation mountain

There’s Mt. Rushmore, and then there’s Salvation Mountain.” Leonard Knight

Kristen asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year. I simply wanted to take a road trip to Salvation Mountain. I’d seen it in pictures, music videos, and Instagram posts. Something was just drawing me there.

The first time I saw Salvation Mountain was in the movie Into the Wild (2007). Leonard Knight says in it, “If this isn’t a love story that is staggering to everybody in the whole world…that God REALLY loves us…a lot.” As I soon found out when we touched foot on the site, Leonard’s sole purpose was to present and display the simple message of God’s love for everyone. Love is the most important thing. He just wanted to keep it simple. As he said, “God loves us all. Don’t get complicated with love. Let’s keep it simple.”

Leonard lived a very simple life. His home was an old truck. He didn’t have running water, electricity, or a phone for the three decades when he lived at that site. He simply painted and built with adobe and straw. And it all started when he said, “Jesus, I’m a sinner. Please come into my heart.” He said it fifteen times, started crying, and began his life’s work.

This is the life of a good guy: humble, hardworking, and influential. His work has been featured in film, videos, and documentaries. Before his death in 2014, Leonard Knight proudly stated Congress had declared his artwork a national treasure. Here are a few of my favorite pics of Kristen and I from our trip:

salvation mountain artwork

Salvation Mountain Love

salvation mountain holy bible

Maybe you have dreams that aren’t taking off? Let Leonard Knight’s story provide you inspiration to put in decades of work to achieve your dreams. I found a great documentary that inspired me, and I hope it inspires you.

The Man Behind The Mountain – An Intimate Look at American Folk Artist Leonard Knight from Don’t Sleep Productions on Vimeo.

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