The ruins of a long forgotten Argentine tourist town that spent a quarter of a century under water is becoming increasingly popular with visitors again.

Epecuen, in the farmlands southwest ofBuenos Aires, was once a bustling little lakeside resort, where 1,500 people served 20-thousand tourists a season.

During the town’s golden age, the same trains that carried grain to the outside world brought visitors from the capital to relax in Epecuen’s saltwater baths and spas.

The saltwater lake was particularly attractive because it has 10 times more salt than the ocean, making the water buoyant.

A particularly heavy rainstorm followed a series of wet winters, and the lake overflowed its banks onNovember 10, 1985.

Water burst through a retaining wall and spilled into the lakeside streets. People fled with what they could, and within days their homes were submerged under nearly 33 feet of corrosive saltwater.

“On the 10th of November at10 amin the morning the embankment was breached and a very strong southerly wind made that the water began to flood through to the town,” said Norma Berg, daughter of German immigrants and a 23-year-old resident of Epecuen when the flood hit in 1985.

For 25 years, the town remained trapped under water but then in 2007 following several years of dry weather the floods began to recede.

The town hasn’t been rebuilt, but it has become a tourist destination again for people willing to drive at least six hours fromBuenos Aires, along 340 miles of narrow country roads to visit it.

Visitors come to see the rusted hulks of automobiles and furniture, crumbled homes and broken appliances. They climb staircases that lead nowhere, and wander through a graveyard where the water toppled headstones and exposed tombs to the elements.

When the floods hit in 1985 there was one resident who refused to leave.

Pablo Novak, now 82, still lives on the edge of the town, welcoming people who wander into the town’s crumbled streets.

“Whoever passes nearby cannot go without coming to visit here,” Novak said. “It’s getting more people to the area, as they come to see the ruins.”

Many residents of Epecuen fled to nearby Carhue, another lakeside town, and built new hotels and spas, promising relaxing getaways featuring saltwater and mud facials.

The local tourism authority is now looking for heritage site designation for Epecuen and it is hoped the very ruins that capture a traumatic moment in the town’s history can be the future lifeblood of the region.