It has been submerged in water for more than 80 years.
But now, following this summer’s record drought, Lake Mead has almost completely dried up, revealing entire towns that disappeared decades ago.
And tourists are flooding in.
The reservoir – America’s largest – is home to St Thomas, an Old West town which was lost in 1938 when the government built a dam to create a lake.
Many residents of the historic town in Colorado, near the Grand Canyon, refused to leave until the very last minute when water consumed their homes.
Now, however, people can revisit the stone ruins and even walk across parts of the lake bed, which has lost 60 per cent of its contents.
‘You have new beaches, new coves, new things you can explore,’ Marina owner Bruce Nelson told CBS News.
He was one of many to applaud the natural drying up – despite the bleak prospects for a dry region lacking in water.
Diving teams are excited by the idea that more people can access submerged historic sites now that it is shallower.
And historians are reminiscing about the history that was lost.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area public affairs officer Christie Vanover told CBS: ‘Things got a little wild out here. There were some horse thieves. There were some cattle rustlers.’
Tech Diving Unlimited director Joel Silverstein told the station: ‘The B-29s were very important during World War II. They carried all the different bombs and a lot of people flew in them. And they were the most popular and most used plane in World War II.’
The valley reached its highest water levels in 1983 and has been shallowing ever since due to droughts.
Most of its water content comes from melted snow which trickles down from Colorado and Wyoming.
But for the first time last year, following a steady decrease in water levels, the federal government officially reduced the amount of water that flows into Lake Mead from the northern Lake Powell.
Though this means joy for historians – who are flocking in their droves to visit St Thomas – it is bad news for cities such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Lake Mead is a crucial source of water for the surrounding areas, and has been ever since the government designed the reservoir.
Last year, the New York Times reported that seven in 10 Nevadans rely on Lake Mead to supply their water.
Envisioning a crisis, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) has spent $817 million on a new tunnel below Lake Mead to catch more water, the paper reported.
In a bleak summary of the region’s outlook, a senior SNWA official John Entminger told the Times: ‘The era of big water transfers is either over, or it’s rapidly coming to an end. It sure looks like in the 21st century, we’re all going to have to use less water.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3179483/A-new-world-Astonishing-drought-unveils-lost-towns-sat-submerged-Lake-Mead-decades.html#ixzz3hR42XONE
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