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St. Thomas, Nevada

A History Uncovered

Aaron McArthur

Publication Year: 2013

The Mormon settlement, flooded by Hoover Dam in 1938, remains a place of historical significance.

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4

Table of Contents

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pp. 5-6


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...To some, the story of St. Thomas is a cautionary tale about water in the Southwest—or, rather, the lack of water. The followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (lds) who settled at the confluence of the Virgin and Muddy Rivers in 1865 knew a thing or two about the importance...

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pp. xiii-xvi

...This book began as an administrative history of the St. Thomas, Nevada, site for the National Park Service. When the ruins of the town began to emerge from the murky depths of Lake Mead in 1999, the National Park Service realized that it needed to know how to administer the site. A...

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pp. 1-5

...In 2002, in the midst of the worst drought in recorded history in the Colorado River system, the remains of St. Thomas, onetime town on the Muddy River, emerged from the depths of Lake Mead. This mud-caked Brigadoon drew...

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Physical Setting, Native American Usage, and Pre–Muddy Mission Mormon Movement

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pp. 6-20

...In 1864 the Samuel Claridge family lived in Nephi, Utah. Dressed in their finest clothes, they were eager to attend a meeting with the visiting president of the church, Brigham Young. Samuel’s daughter Elizabeth described the meeting...

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Establishing an Outpost of Zion

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pp. 21-49

...friendly Native residents were not enough, Call mentioned the rock-salt quarry, with “thousands of tons” available for nothing more than the effort of extracting it. Punctuating his glowing report, Call wrote that on their return trip, they “more thoroughly examined the facilities for forming a...

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Now That We Are Here, Where Are We?

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pp. 50-59

...In 1870 a federal survey showed that St. Thomas was in Nevada. Rather than submit to the state’s high rate of taxation, the Saints voted to abandon the settlement after receiving permission from Brigham Young to do so if they so desired. The timing of the decision to leave was particularly poor for Israel Hoyt. Israel was in the mountains sawing lumber...

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Not a Town of the Past . . .”

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pp. 60-76

...After the Mormon exodus, St. Thomas was a much different place. Opportunists moved in and stripped the town of everything of value. For a time, the town looked more like Dodge City than Salt Lake City, with prospecting, hard drinking, gambling, and horse racing. The experience of the Syphus family shows just how different a town St. Thomas was after the Saints left. Luke and Julie Syphus moved to St. Thomas in 1887, as...

Photo Insert

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pp. 93-102

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The Mountains Brought Down and the Valleys Exalted

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pp. 77-95

...the early twentieth century. His experience shows St. Thomas entering the modern era, albeit haltingly. He described some difficulty he had in breaking a twenty-dollar note to pay a bill. He had to visit just about everyone in town to get enough change gathered together. The Moapa and Virgin Valleys were both very cash poor, and the closest bank, in terms...

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Not with a Bang, but a Whimper

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pp. 96-113

...In St. Thomas, the twenties started out in a fairly encouraging fashion. In March 1921, the county completed a bridge over the Virgin River at Mesquite. The opening celebration almost depopulated Mesquite, Bunkerville, St. Thomas, Overton, and Logandale, for the day, and...

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Coup de Grace?

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pp. 114-119

...St. Thomas resident Hugh Lord did not believe that the waters of Lake Mead would ever actually reach St. Thomas. Early in June 1938, Lord went fishing, driving his car down the Muddy Valley and parking about one hundred yards from the water on a gentle slope. He had some success...

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Sodden Phoenix

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pp. 120-124

...St. Thomas was scarcely under the water when people began looking anxiously forward to the time when it would emerge from the depths. Fluctuations in water levels have exposed the town site several times. This chapter recounts these emergences and the reunions of former residents...


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pp. 125-142


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pp. 143-148


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pp. 149-158

E-ISBN-13: 9780874179200
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874179194

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 11 b/w photos, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2013