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3 Underwater Mormon Ghost Towns You Can See Today

While many ghost towns founded by Latter-day Saints have exciting histories, three Mormon ghost towns stand out from the rest. These ghost towns, once submerged by water, have only recently been uncovered, revealing new insights into the Saints that lived there.

Drought—it is something many desert dwellers fear, yet these dry spells often reveal interesting mysteries and treasures from the past. Including ghost towns.

Many ghost towns founded by Latter-day Saints have exciting histories, and some, like Grafton and Paria, have been used as movie sets (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Buffalo Bill, and the Rat Pack's Sergeant 3). But three Mormon ghost towns stand out from the rest.

These ghost towns, once submerged by water, have only recently been uncovered, revealing new insights into the Saints that lived there.

Saint Thomas

Once covered by 60 feet of water, the ghost town of Saint Thomas, Nevada, only recently emerged from the depths of Lake Mead as the nation's largest reservoir receded during a long drought.

A small town home to around 500 people at its peak in the 1880s, Saint Thomas was originally settled by Mormon pioneers led by Thomas Smith in 1865.

The Saints abandoned the town just six years later, however, when a land survey revealed they were actually within the state boundaries of Nevada, not the Utah territory. Nevada officials demanded the pioneers pay five years of back taxes, but the Latter-day Saints, except for the Bonelli family, decided to abandon the settlement and burn their homes.

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The remains of the ice cream parlor at Saint Thomas. Image by Ethan Miller from Getty Images.

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The ruins of a school in Saint Thomas. Image by David McNew from Getty Images.

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Foundations of buildings left from Saint Thomas. Image by Ethan Miller from Getty Images.

By the 1880s, however, other settlers came to build on what the Saints had left behind, constructing a school, post office, and ice cream parlor.

In 1928, President Calvin Coolidge signed a bill to create Hoover Dam, and the government bought the Saint Thomas residents' property since their town rested in the flood plane above the dam. By 1935, the waters of Lake Mead began lapping at the town, fully covering it for over 60 years until 2002, when it became exposed once more.

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