The rare occasion provided
by the current drought at Lake Mead gives us the opportunity to try to locate
the Lost City Pueblo Grande De Nevada. The interest is in the effects of
approximately 65 years of submersion in 2007 by Lake Mead on some of the more
spectacular archeological remains in the area.
We intended to photo document some the effects of the flooding at this site. In
the Richard Shutler monograph on Lost City a detailed contour map of the lost
vicinity is provided on Plate 25. This pre-flooding contour map would
be a good resource for comparing to current photos of the same areas. This
could ultimately reveal how to find the other lost cities under the Overton Arm.
When pre-flood archaeological goals were set, perhaps no thought was given to
possibility of drought making these remains once again accessible for long
periods of time.
We traveled to this spot back on
January 16, 2000
Lake Mead was 'full' or near maximum capacity.
After seeing this spot when it is not flooded, we now know that
that this is the location of Lost City.
This spot corresponds exactly with Plate
25 shown in the Richard Shutler monograph. (2) The hint is the road which runs right through the middle of that cove. We did not climb the mesa, we walked up the
road you see in the first photo. This road
appears in the 2nd, drought photo, where we see the remains of long flooded
trees, other flora and the road. In the background we see the same mountain at
the same angle in both photos. The water hides a lot. The drought photo was
taken from the middle of the
cove between the right promontory and the 'island'.
This is a remote area. People can make mistakes and die here because they are
not prepared to deal with the heat. Two died of heat exhaustion
on June 20 2003 at the south end
of the lake. Ironically, that was the same day we hiked to St.
Thomas. Even while being prepared, a bad decision or two will
also put your life in peril. After this last journey, There is no longer any doubt about that.
Because this area is so rugged and difficult to get to we had made several attempts to get to the Lost City by other means.
In January 2000 our strategy was to launch our watercraft from Overton Beach and to
boat over to Lost City. We used land marks and other means to try to locate Lost
City. The place was truly unrecognizable. When the lake is in flood stage it is
very difficult to find the sites described by Shutler. As I saw by this last
expedition, I was actually there. The flood stage photos are recognizable only
by using landmarks.
What makes this the Lost City is how difficult it is not only to find it, but to
get there and back. The environment is bleak, deceptive and filled with a
surprising array of dangers. The possibility of becoming a lost citizen is
immediate and dangerous. The major landmark in the area is Mormon
is a prominent geographic feature which separates the Muddy and Virgin River
valleys. In the 1st photo to the right the tip or 'end' of the mesa has the
pointing to it. Note the environment. This is a place where erosion seems to be
in charge. The structurally weak and aptly named 'Muddy Formation' is exposed
significantly in this area.
This soft, powdery formation has vast caliche beds and other harder materials
layered horizontally throughout. This is what gives the area its distinctive
mesa-like look. This leads to a particular type of erosion when it is
flooded also. As we have seen the shoreline of Lake Mead is expanding over these
islands and they will soon disappear. The effects of 60 years flooding was the
removal of approximately half the area in some places and about a third
reduction in size with most of the other areas of Lost City.
We plan to go back to Lost City and improve on what we learned. This journey was
done under some duress. We were not sure if the place we were heading to was the
right place. It was the right place. Crossing Overton Arm from St. Thomas Point
is a one time journey until the Tamarisk is somehow removed. There is evidence
if fire on the plant remains of the last droughts.
Those burned stubbles are a formidable hazard. They penetrate most
shoes and boots. The strange process of growth, burning, flooding and then again
desiccation, has produce shape pointed spears that erupt through the ground. You
neither want to step or fall on these things because they will go through your
foot and they will go through your body, quickly.
The thick Tamarisk makes falling and missteps easier. The tamarisk so think as
to require you to lift you legs to thigh level as you step. Otherwise it will
trip you. The route you must take from St. Thomas Point goes through about 2.5
miles of this, each way. This is the extreme hazard. We came prepared for the
heat but it was the exhaustion which made it perilous. The effect of having to
burn this much energy will increase the heart rate to well over 150 beats per
On the way back we had to rest several times and we were under great duress.
When we finally reached the other side, the first shade was a canyon wall which
we stayed by for many minutes. Finally we practically crawled back up point and
made it to the car.
This journey took five hours from 8am to 1pm. Again we do not recommend that
anyone try this. There is another now and we had used it on our second journey.
That is for the future.