|North Thru Nevada
Above the Waterline
by Everett Chase
Unlike the ocean tides drifting in and out by the pull of the sun and the moon revealing the underbelly of the glistening shore, the town of St. Thomas waits until the skies dry up and the rivers flow thin before it making it's appearance.
Buried by the waters of the Colorado River in the 1930's St. Thomas has emerged for its second showing to the joy of treasure seekers, historians, and archeologists.
"It has been exposed in the past, in the 1960's," says Steve Daron, Lake Mead National Recreation Area Archeologist." But it hasn't been affected by continuous visitation so the foundations that are there are in fairly pristine condition."
Unlike other areas exposed to human traffic, the foundations of St. Thomas have not been overrun by vehicles from that era or the typical off road variety destroying many pristine sites in our southwest deserts now.
Daron, who came to the Lake Mead Area in 1994 from the Midwest Archeological Center out of Lincoln Nebraska, has taken a unique liking to the St. Thomas ruins. So much so he is not only knowledgable from an Archeologists point of view, but historian, exployer, theologin, and maybe even chief cook and bottle washer.
Daron's curiosity with St. Thomas began with the knowledge of a town submerged under Lake Mead and his inquisitive mind wanting to know what and why. When it became apparent the town was going to become accessible, he took an active interest in doing more research.
"With the drought, the lake levels started to drop and I new it was going to become an issue and we would have to deal with it," Daron says.
"The Bureau of Reclamation prediction is that it will be another 10 years before lake levels come back up and it becomes inundated."
The Park Service is proceeding on the basis of that prediction and are in the process of developing an interpretive plan for the area.
The plan includes proper signage for directions and indentification of specific areas, as well as trails for visitors to follow for the best experience and the least damage.
"We want to keep parts of the area opened up," Steve says, "so people can go down and look around and see something and learn about its past and the people who were there first."