Thomas Nevada, Ghost Town a closer look at a well preserved
The distances in time and culture fit St Thomas squarely
into fields such as historic archeology.* It cannot be
overly stressed that all due respect for the inhabitants of
St Thomas and their descendents is always foremost when we
examine and communicate about these remains. Though very little
remains of the place a lot can be learned from what is
left. The material
culture of that time is well known and any relics are well
buried in the mud. But they style and construction of any
building remains could be revealing. There are things like
fence posts and street and curb boundaries that are still
Some of the structures that were actively used before St
Thomas was flooded were made completely of concrete poured
into some kind of molds. That is, it appears that the
method of construction was to pour the concrete into molds
that were custom made for each job. We see at almost all
locations evidence of individually cut boards - cast marks -
for the walls at each location.
interesting feature is that these places are half buried.
That along with the often 12 inch plus wide concrete walls,
help to keep the inside of the building relatively cool.
Interestingly that is a strategy used by the ancient
inhabitants who used the knolls and upper benches to build
their structures sometimes buried, sometimes semi-buried
like these. The walls of the Anasazi structures were build
with available materials which either incidentally or
intentionally provided a cooling effect.
Even if the main structure on a property was gone, almost
each place had evidence of a well. These were often made of
the same cast in place concrete. The concrete is in
surprising good condition in all places so the wells are
still functional. It can be imagined that the pristine water
table was rather near the surface. This made easy to dig
wells into the soft sand, but constrained how deep you could
make a buildings foundation. We apologize for the angle of
this shot into the well but it was the only way we could get
the reflection of the water into the picture. This well,
shown next to the building above, is back in action.
might have been the deciding factor in where the Anasazi and
Basketmakers put their structures. Having lived in the area
for centuries the ancient dwellers of this region knew how
the water table can effect the depth of their buildings,
thus they often used the higher benches to make the
In this glimpse inside of this building, it must be noted
that the inset portion of the image was processed separately
due to the high light contrasts encountered. As is visible,
the mud in the building reached an equilibrium height equal
to the height of the deposit outside of the building.
This is an interesting anomaly because the uncovered well
was not filled in, The reason might be that the 'house' had
a foundation and the well by definition did not. The water
table upon which these wells were dependent is no doubt
closer to the surface now than they were in pre-flood times.
It appears that the accumulation of mud was not the same
inside the wells.