Monday, August 23, 2010

Dungeon, American Style: The L.A. Lizard Underground

On January 29, 1934, The Los Angeles Times published a stunning report on an ancient, underground city beneath the streets of L.A. That’s enough for an American dungeon, but it gets even better. The city wasn’t alleged to have been built by Native Americans, pre-Columbian explorers, or even Atlantean survivors, but rather by Lizard People.

Cue Sleestak hissing here...

“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 than the highest type of present day peoples, in the belief of G. Warren Shufelt, geophysicist 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.”
- Jean Bosquet, L.A. Times, 1934
It must be said, that Shufelt was a man with some unusual ideas even before the whole lost lizard city thing. He had designed and built an apparatus which he claimed could detect any substance by honing in on its vibrational character.. The device--which was a pendulum in a glass box, attached to a black box affixed with compasses--could not only be used to detect gold and valuable minerals, but could even track down a person using a hair sample.

Using this miraculous device, Shufelt was able to discover a subterranean complex beneath Los Angeles and running under Santa Monica Bay. When he mapped it out, the system of tunnels looked (to him) like a lizard.

In researching the mystery of the complex’s creation, Shufelt was told about a race of “Lizard People” by a Hopi Indian, Chief Little Green Leaf. Indian legends (according to Little Green Leaf) held that a “great catastrophe” had sent the Lizard folk underground 5000 years ago.

Like any good dungeon, this one’s got treasure. First off, the Lizard People kept all their knowledge on gold tablets 4 ft. long and 14 in. wide. On one of these was supposed to the “record of the origin of the human race.” They also had imperishable food supplies “of the herb variety” and a chemical solution which could cut through rock, that they had used to build the tunnels in the first place.

By the time the story broke in the L.A. Times, Shufelt and crew had been digging shafts to get into the city. Updates on the project appeared in newspapers. Then, abruptedly, the project was cancelled. By March 5, 1934, the shafts had been filled in and the contract cancelled.

Maybe, it came to an end because Shufelt was a nut, and his story a fantasy. Or maybe that’s what Enik and his boys want us think.


Jim Shelley said...

Hm...I wonder if this city under LA was the inspiration behind the premis of the Kolchalk Night Strangler movie (the sequel to the Night Stalker)

Stefan Poag said...

Nice map! Curious to know what happened to Schufeldt after his excavation got shut down.

Unknown said...

Yet another great piece of American esoterica! I had already been thinking about evidence of Reptoid/Lizardman settlements in the current Supers setting I'm working on. This meshes nicely with it.

Trey said...

@Jim & @limpey - Good questions all around. The internet (thus far) has failed me in this regard.

@Risus - Glad to be of service. My marketing line: "I search the internet for weird stuff so you don't have to." ;)

Kevin Mac said...

Man, The Times is starting to be pretty bottom of the barrel. To be honest, the only story these days in LA is the shutting down of pot disperseries, so I guess they gotta come up with some shit to sell that rag.

I've lived in LA my whole life, and even been to some underground spots. Take it from me, the only dwellers down there are stinky hobos and Mexican day laboreres drinking Tecate on thier lunch break.

JimShelly: that Nightstalker was based upon the real underground city in Seattle. Not just based, it WAS the Seattle underground depicted there. Yes, it's a real place.