ENVIRONMENT
08/05/2015 07:16 pm ET

Ghost Town Emerges As Drought Makes Nevada's Lake Mead Disappear

Many of the buildings used to lie 60 feet below the surface.
Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Lest anyone forget, the drought in California and across the Southwest is still raging on. And one of the places where its effects can be observed most clearly is Nevada's Lake Mead.

The nation's largest reservoir has hit a series of troubling milestones over the past year, sinking to a record low in late June. Now, in the latest benchmark for the new Lake Mead, a town that flooded shortly after the completion of the Hoover Dam in 1938 has literally risen from the depths.

The ghost town -- once called St. Thomas, Nevada -- was founded as a Mormon settlement in 1865 and had six bustling businesses by 1918, according to Weather.com. But for nearly a century, it's been uninhabited and uninhabitable, existing mostly as an underwater curiosity.

Captured by two Getty photographers, the photos below show the shell of the former settlement. St. Thomas has appeared under similarly dire drought conditions several times in the past decades. 

The National Park Service has opened up a pathway from a parking area down to the ruins, which you'll be able to visit for the foreseeable future. Take a look below.

  • <span style="color: #000000;">Broken bottles that people have found are left on a foundation in Mormon pioneer town Saint Tho
    Credit: David McNew/Getty Images
    Broken bottles that people have found are left on a foundation in Mormon pioneer town Saint Thomas.
  • <span style="color: #000000;">A sign showing the trail to the ghost town of St. Thomas is shown on August 3, 2015 in the Lake
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    A sign showing the trail to the ghost town of St. Thomas is shown on August 3, 2015 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.
  • Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, N
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.
  • An anchor is among the ruins of Mormon pioneer town Saint Thomas.
    Credit: David McNew/Getty Images
    An anchor is among the ruins of Mormon pioneer town Saint Thomas.
  • Tree stumps used as a boundary marker are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015 in the Lake Mead National R
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Tree stumps used as a boundary marker are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.
  • Mussel shells are shown among the ruins of a structure in the ghost town on August 3, 2015 of St. Thomas in the Lake Mead Nat
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Mussel shells are shown among the ruins of a structure in the ghost town on August 3, 2015 of St. Thomas in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.
  • Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, N
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.
  • The town was founded in 1865 by Mormon pioneers at the site where the Muddy River flowed into the Colorado River and at one p
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    The town was founded in 1865 by Mormon pioneers at the site where the Muddy River flowed into the Colorado River and at one point had about 500 settlers.
  • The ruins of a school in Mormon pioneer town Saint Thomas, flooded 70 years ago by the rising waters of the Colorado River wh
    Credit: David McNew/Getty Images
    The ruins of a school in Mormon pioneer town Saint Thomas, flooded 70 years ago by the rising waters of the Colorado River when it was dammed to create Lake Mead.
  • A bottle is among artifacts that people have found and left on foundations.
    Credit: David McNew/Getty Images
    A bottle is among artifacts that people have found and left on foundations.
  • Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015.
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas on August 3, 2015.
  • The ruins of the St. Thomas School House are shown.
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    The ruins of the St. Thomas School House are shown.
  • Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas.
    Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Ruins of a structure are shown in the ghost town of St. Thomas.
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