I re-visited Salvation Mountain in December with hopes of seeing Leonard Knight again. During lunch and the small talk with the server, we found out Leonard was not well and had been in a care center for at least a few weeks. It was bewildering to imagine all those visitors coming without getting the chance to meet him. Leonard had been living there for years, welcoming guests, accepting donations and working on the adobe structure all at the same time.
He is 81 now. I first sat down with him as the lone visitor on a cold Friday in spring 2010. He was working on a new addition to Salvation Mountain, and noted that though these responsibilities will soon exceed his capacity, he will work until that day. There was such determination in his voice, candid and somehow cogent enough to hide the frailty in his tiny frame. I left thinking I’d see him again, and so would all the visitors who’ll come during the busy winter. I was wrong, and I can only say now that I am very sad. Visitors are currently not welcome, and it is unclear if the public will see Leonard again.