Founded in 1865 when Brigham Young sent settles to the confluence of the Virgin River and Muddy Rivers. St Thomas remained a Mormon settlement until 1871 when a surveying correction placed the town in Nevada. When the Mormons abandoned the area, other settlers claimed the property. St Thomas used to served as a pit stop for travelers between Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah using along the old Arrow Highway (US 91).
The United States Federal Government “purchased” the land as part of the Hoover Dam project. In actuality, there were multiple suits as the residents of St. Thomas raise complaints about the amount the federal government was paying for their land. In time, the residence lost and the entire town was doomed to its destiny and the water of Lake Mead continued to rise.
The last known resident as Hugh Lord, who remained until the water surrounded his home. He loaded is possessions into a row boat, set fire to his home, and rowed off into history. Soon the rising water of Lake Mead swallowed the entire down, and wasted the landscape with water 60 feet deep. From time to time, the lake level will drop low enough to expose this lost town.
The town is currently exposed, and lies in the lake bed surrounded by a large expanse of tamarisk. The dirt road to the trail-head is located just inside the entrance to Lake Mead National Recreation Area when coming from Moapa and Overton and the trail is beyond simple and suitable for almost every vehicle.
The 2.5 miles hiking trail is very easy and takes you from the trail-head and loops through the town. The trail would be a bit more difficult if you attempt the trail during the hot summer months. Remains of the town are limited to foundations, some old wood fence posts and some metal artifacts such as farming equipment and a V-8 small block. The park service appears to cut the tamarisk back to expose the foundations for visitors, however the cut off tamarisk trucks can be a tripping hazard and would be harsh it you fell on one, so keep in eye on where you step.
I have been to many ghost towns over the years. Many of them lost in history due to mines failing to produce, fire, hard environments and disease. St Thomas is different from all the others. This is a ghost town by design, by protest and there is no better reminder than the fresh water clam shells which litter the site. The fact that there are viable towns (Moapa and Overton) just a few miles away make St Thomas all the more poignant.