Here’s a Writers on the Range piece, written by Kate Shaw, that’s running in the Cortez Journal. She looks back at St. Thomas, Utah, once thought to be perpetually under the waters of Lake Mead. Here’s an excerpt:
St. Thomas lay beneath Lake Mead for much of the last 70 years, emerging occasionally when the water level dropped. This time, the town has been exposed since 2002 – the longest time since its drowning – because the reservoir has been depleted by a lengthy drought and a growing population. And Lake Mead is unlikely to reclaim St. Thomas any time soon: its surface now lies nearly 30 feet below the town’s remains. The site, now managed by the National Park Service, is frequented by tourists, historians and the occasional coyote.
Even after the town’s flooding, its previous residents still thought of the little valley as their home. Each time the water receded, they descended on the ruins to read poems and picnic in the empty lots where their homes once stood. At the 1965 reunion, Marva Perkins Sprague found her childhood doll, buried in a mud bank.
Nearly 30 years earlier, auto shop owner Hugh Lord had been the last to leave St. Thomas before it was swallowed. He had refused to believe that the floodwaters would ever reach his home. As the rising lake lapped at his front porch in the summer of 1938, he finally stepped into a boat and rowed away, surrendering to the water that had helped the town blossom, then came to claim it.