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Folk art icon and Salvation Mountain creator Leonard Knight dies




Leonard Knight enjoys the relatively cool temperature of one of his structures of straw bales and adobe near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
Leonard Knight enjoys the relatively cool temperature of one of his structures of straw bales and adobe near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
David McNew/Getty Images
Leonard Knight enjoys the relatively cool temperature of one of his structures of straw bales and adobe near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
Christian designs adorn a staw bale and adobe 'igloo' near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea. 70-year-old Leonard Knight has been painting and repainting Biblical messages on his spiritual hill for 17 years, using an estimated 100,000 gallons of donated paint.
David McNew/Getty Images
Leonard Knight enjoys the relatively cool temperature of one of his structures of straw bales and adobe near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
Salvation Mountain expresses 'God is love' and other Biblical messages May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
David McNew/Getty Images
Leonard Knight enjoys the relatively cool temperature of one of his structures of straw bales and adobe near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
Leonard Knight stands before the message, 'God is love', which dominates the Biblical messages on Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
David McNew/Getty Images


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For those traveling in the remote Imperial Valley in Southern California, the adobe mound of colorful paintings that rose from the desert floor was a striking image.

Known as Salvation Mountain, its long-time creator, Leonard Knight, died Monday at a convalescent hospital in eastern San Diego County, where he had lived for two years. He was 82 and had suffered from diabetes.

Arriving in California in the early 1980s, the Vermont native began work on his life's project atop a terraced hill in the Imperial Valley near the Salton Sea. Salvation Mountain is now about three stories tall and 100 feet long, emblazoned with "god is love" and topped with a cross.

The land is owned by the state, and Knight's devoted followers are hoping to preserve the art installation as a historic site. We’re joined now by Zack Godshall, a filmmaker who spent time with Knight for a 2009 documentary called "God’s Architects."