The Creepy Beneath Your Feet: The Patron Saint of the Lizard People

Not Warren Shufelt. But you never know. Photo by Cy.

I could write for days about G. Warren Shufelt.

Imagine if you crossed Doc Brown from Back to the Future with the gadget guy from Wild Wild West and threw in a little Joseph Smith and Edgar Cayce for good measure. You’d get G. Warren Shufelt.

Shufelt was the guy who, along with his colleages Rex McCreery and Ray Martin, first brought America’s attention to the Lizard People in the 1930s. A mining engineer from Arizona, Shufelt was approached by McCreery and Martin to excavate a portion of Fort Moore Hill (just to the north of the Chinatown dragons on Broadway). City Hall allowed them to do this, because — and this is where you might want to warn your desk that it’s about to get smacked by your forehead — the three men claimed that the Lizard People had a huge stash of gold, and they would split whatever they found with the city.

Here’s how they did it: McCreery and Martin had an ancient and yellowed map of the Great Lizard City that lies beneath Los Angeles. They didn’t say where they got it. The ancient underground city of the Lizard People, they claimed, was shaped like a lizard, much like Seattle is shaped like a pretentious hipster. (But wait: This is only one version of the story. In another version, Shufelt got the map from a guy named “Little Chief Greenleaf,” whose authority no doubt derived from his cool rhyming name. But we’ll talk about him in another post.) For his part, Shufelt had invented a device that, when exposed to a given material, like gold, could detect deposits of that material underground. Armed with these flawless and well-calibrated scientific tools, the trio approached City Hall in March of 1933 with an ironclad argument for digging up a substantial portion of the landscape.

“We have a specialized device that can find caves full of Lizard treasure,” Shufelt told City Hall. “And a map. It’s all very scientific. You just have to attune the apparatus to the specific vibrational frequency of the Lizard gold. We’ll give the city half of everything we find!”

“Sure, whatever,” said City Hall. “Just clean up after.”

For days, Shufelt dug into the side of Fort Moore hill in search of delicious reptilian gold. Of course, they found nothing; somehow, the Lizard People were too crafty to be found by a trio of crackpots and their pseudoscientific machine. By September, the crew had given up hope of ever finding anything.

More tomorrow on the Lizard City itself.

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