A whole new world: Astonishing drought unveils lost Wild West town that has been submerged under Nevada’s Lake Mead since 1935

Daily Mail – by Mia de Graaf

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.  

Revealed: The stone ruins of St Thomas, an abandoned Old West town, have been unveiled inside Lake Mead thanks to the drought

Before: In 1970 (pictured) the reservoir was filled with water which visitors would sail across

In 2014: This recent shot of Lake Mead shows a much more shallow reservoir than usual. Water used to be feet from the top of this structure

In 2007: Just eight years ago, water filled out much more of the reservoir, which was built to provide water to the region

In 1950: Shortly after the dam was built, water filled the valley to the brim. It continued to increase in water levels until 1983 - its peak

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.’

Now: Tourists are flocking to the region to see the region which went from desert land to water bed and back to desert land in 80 years

The marks on the side of the valley clearly show how drastically water levels have fallen over time (pictured in 2014)

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.

Residents of St Thomas, Nevada. Luke Syphus (left), Harry Gentry (right), Osborne Gentry (boy), Laura Gentry (looking through fence)

The Gentry Hotel in St Thomas Nevada, in early 20th century - a few decades before it was covered with water

Bridge over the Virgin River near St Thomas, Nevada, which acted as a crossing for cattle. Within years, only boats could cross

At the start: This is a 1935 picture taken months after the dam was built, as it was only just starting to fill up with water

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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11 thoughts on “A whole new world: Astonishing drought unveils lost Wild West town that has been submerged under Nevada’s Lake Mead since 1935

  1. A different world then….morals and respect. Dirty thirty’s hard times for all that endured those days. I have much respect. Thanks Grayrider.

  2. In 86 I started to dive this lake and have dove in the areas showed in these pictures. You would be surprised what we found. The town of St Thomas we dove on when it was still covered in about twenty feet of water, murky back then. On the AZ side by the dam there are parking areas that over look the lake and we would dive there, we called it the junk yard because of what we would find there. Think of what you might see there and we probably saw it there.

    1. I hope you’re making plans to get the hell out of Vegas, REDHORSE, because as far as I know, once Lake Mead is dry, the party’s over.

      There are too many people there now, and if they’re all fighting for the pittance of water that emerges from a few springs there, most of them are going to die.

      I drove for Whittlesea Blue cab for a while (the carpenter’s union there sold out to the wetbacks, and I had to wait for real work), and one long time resident that I picked up told me he used to let his dog chase snakes in the desert, where the RIO now stands. It sounds like you go back to those times there, so I’ll bet you’ve witnessed the expansion first-hand.

      1. To answer your question JR, YES I am leaving in just over thirty days, FOR GOOD! I came here in 85 and it wasn’t bad back then but has since become a real sewage pit. I’ll be going up north to a small town of about 200 and putting this place in my rear view mirror. I bought a small piece of land last year and have been getting it ready for September move in.

        1. That’s good news…. make sure you’re playing “Leaving Las Vegas” on the stereo as you watch it vanish in the rear-view mirror.

          And I wish you the best of luck with your new home.

      2. With LV gone & the population dispatched it will likely reduce Nevada’s huge numbers of liberals to a solid minority.

        OK, that will not happen anytime soon, but it sure sounds good.

  3. 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.

    That must have been a massive venture moving lake Mead to Colorado.

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