Mecca is a census-designated place (CDP) in Riverside County, California, United States. The population was 5,402 at the 2000 census. In 2006, the population might have doubled or tripled to the 10,000-15,000 range. The unincorporated community is served by State Route 111, a north-south highway on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. Rapid growth in population, development and employment in the 2000s gave Mecca a new identity as the fastest growing area in California. A new public school complex, tens of thousands of new homes, a proposed commercial aviation airport in nearby Thermal and economic development as part of the Coachella Valley Free Enterprise Zone is positively contributing to living there. About two-thirds of the local population are in the federal poverty range, the majority are migrant laborers and every May, the population triples to 25,000 to 40,000 gave Mecca the distinction as the highest population density of any community in rural California (about 15,000 per square mile). A 2006 documentary film, Mecca: A Legacy of Cesar Chavez, reveals details about the area. It was distributed nationwide by the National Educational Telecommunications Association and discusses poverty, health care, and farmworker history of the area. Recently, the Torres Martinez Band of Mission Indians of the Cahuilla tribe who got federal monetary damage payments from land loss by the creation of the Salton Sea in 1905, opened a new gaming operation: Red Earth Casino to generate employment and recreation desperately needed in Mecca and the Salton Sea area. On March 3, 2008, twenty-two cars of a sixty-three unit Union Pacific freight train running between Colton and El Centro derailed near Mecca, causing a long-term evacuation of forty homes and precipitating the long-term closure of both the railroad and State Route 111 due to the leakage of both hydrochloric acid and phosphoric acid. Closure of the highway greatly affected travel between the eastern Coachella Valley and eastern Imperial County.