The Underwater Ghost Town and Lost City of St. Thomas Nevada has been Revealed!
The watery grave that swallowed whole an entire town 80 years ago had vanished. That was, until 20 years ago when Lake Mead began to recede and reveal this once lost city of St. Thomas Nevada.
Where there was once 70 feet of water, are now clear skies and a faint breeze. What remains of St. Thomas Nevada now soaks in the sunshine, about 60 miles northeast of the dam that damned the town. For a long time the only way to see St. Thomas was to go scuba diving.
Established in 1865 as a Mormon settlement near what is now Overton, at the behest of Brigham Young, St. Thomas fell victim to the Hoover Dam and its formation of Lake Mead. The town was abandoned before Lake Mead washed over in 1938 in what would become a ghost town like none other.
The St. Thomas ghost town is close to Las Vegas (about an hour away) and accessible via a 2.5 mile hiking trail east of Valley of Fire State Park. It lies within the Lake Mead National Recreation area, affording it a concerted preservation effort.
The park service maintains the site and allows visitors to learn and interpret its history for themselves. Plaques along the trail through the ghost town provide context to the rubble and foundations where people once lived and worked.
In one segment of the trail, visitors can see the remnants of the schoolhouse, general store and 14-room hotel once visited by dignitaries such as President Calvin Coolidge. Ironically, it was Coolidge who signed the Boulder Dam Act of 1928, which sealed the fate of St. Thomas.
Most residents had abandoned ship by 1932. Others were more obstinate and refused to believe their homes would be flooded out. One of the very last residents of the forsaken settlement was a man who operated a garage in town. He woke up the morning of June 11, 1938 to water swirling around his bed. He gathered his things, stepped onto a boat, set his house on fire and paddled away, watching his soon-to-be waterlogged home go up in smoke. The waters of Lake Mead soon spilled into the streets of the ghost town, which spelled the end of St. Thomas Nevada.
The town has since emerged, and now Lake Mead is nowhere to be found. St. Thomas resurfaced in 2002, and it’s unclear when or if it will submerge again. Left behind are adobe walls, foundations, cisterns, and an endless supply of shells caked into the silt and sand.
While you need to use your imagination when you visit St. Thomas, it’s a fascinating and peaceful place to pursue the puzzle of concrete foundations. When I was there I had the place to myself. I recommend doing it in the cooler months of the year as it can be unbearable during the summer.
If you have any questions about visiting the ghost town of St. Thomas, Nevada, leave a comment below.
So until next time, we’ll see ya on the road…