L.A.’s Forgotten Lizard People

by Michael Imlay on January 10, 2012

in Cryptic L.A.

(StockXchange image)

(StockXchange image)

The KCRW Shortcuts blog has a new post exploring the facts and fiction surrounding Los Angeles’ oft-ignored network of underground tunnels. The post includes links to several in-depth features on the topic by local news outlets.

Worthwhile as the item is, however, it unfortunately left out an entertainingly bizarre story about L.A.’s subterranean landscape: the mysterious Lizard People and their underground city.

Yes, as the Los Angeles Almanac reports, there really is such an urban legend, and over the decades it has lured many a would-be Indiana Jones on a futile search for the ancient caverns.

The whole idea seems to be based on a 3,000-year-old Hopi myth about a race of humans who chose to dwell deep within the earth. It’s not clear if they actually resembled reptiles or were called the Lizard People merely for their burrowing behavior. Either way, even prominent Angelenos have bought into the legend, including (allegedly) Charles Lummis, the famously eccentric writer-researcher of Native American culture.

The search for the Lizard People’s lost city apparently reached a fever pitch in 1934 when geophysicist and treasure-seeker G. Warren Shufelt sank a 250-foot shaft into Fort Moore hill, sure that he would find it. According to this January 29, 1934, Los Angeles Times article, Shufelt was led to the site by extensive “scientific” research that included radio X-rays.

Sadly, like numerous explorers before and after, all Shufelt ever dug up was dirt.

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