When LA Thought It Had a Secret Underground Reptilian City

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In 1933, G. Warren Shufelt—equipped with a "radio x-ray" and Native American myth—regaled the public of Los Angeles with the possibility of untold riches. According to the geophysical mining engineer, an ancient race of lizard people once lived in underground caverns just below the city. Although the creatures were long gone, their cache of gold tablets and treasures remained. Shufelt and his team were determined to organize an old-fashioned treasure hunt to retrieve them. 

Shufelt’s evidence was a cryptic tale told to him by a Hopi tribesman named Chief Green Leaf that was “confirmed” by his x-ray radio. This radio was an invention he perfected himself, which could supposedly see below the earth’s surface, like a sonogram.

According to this treasure hunter, the lizard people were super-beings that lived underground 5000 years ago after fleeing a meteor shower. Using a mysterious chemical solution, the creatures were able to carve through solid bedrock to create underground cities that could hold thousands of families. One of these supposed 13 subterranean cities was right under Los Angeles and appropriately shaped like a lizard. According to Shufelt’s calculations, the head started below Elysian Park and the tail ended below what is now the Central Library. You can see an elaborate map of the supposed city here

This outlandish story was intriguing enough for the Los Angeles Times to enthusiastically pick it up in January of 1934. 

Author Jean Bosquet opened with

Busy Los Angeles, although little realizing it in the hustle and bustle of modern existence, stands above a lost city of catacombs filled with incalculable treasure and imperishable records of a race of humans further advanced intellectually and scientifically than even the highest type of present day peoples, in the belief of G. Warren Shufelt, geophysical mining engineer now engaged in an attempt to wrest from the lost city deep in the earth below Fort Moore Hill the secrets of the Lizard People of legendary fame in the medicine lodges of the American Indian.

The LA Times included a detailed map of the alleged city, as well as an illustration of the industrious lizard people hard at work. As you can see on the map, pockets of gold could be found in almost every room of the secret cavern. 

Shufelt agreed to split any gold discoveries he found with the county, if they allowed him to drill. He figured that he needed to get 1000 feet under before hitting the jackpot. Unfortunately, the intrepid digger only made it 250 feet—without any special chemical solutions, he could not reach the lizard people’s mystical den.

As the LA Times points out, there has been a lot of digging in the city recently, but there has been no word of any mysterious underground tunnels or hoards of gold. 

[h/t Atlas Obscura]