In the Mojave Desert, at the southern end of the isolated Moapa Valley, sat the town of St. Thomas, Nevada. A small community that thrived despite scorching temperatures and scarce water, St. Thomas was home to hardy railroad workers, farmers, shopkeepers, teachers, and a lone auto mechanic named Henry Lord. Born and raised in St. Thomas, Lord lived in a small home beside his garage with his son, Thomas, his daughter-in-law, Ellen, and his grandson, "Little" Henry. All lived happily until the stroke of a pen by President Coolidge authorizing the construction of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Within a decade, more than 250 square miles of desert floor would become flooded by the waters of the Colorado River, and St. Thomas would be no more. In the early 1930s, the federal government began buying out the residents of St. Thomas, yet the hardheaded Henry Lord, believing the water would never reach his home, refused to sell. It was a mistake that would cost himaand his familyadearly. Lords of St. Thomasdetails the tragedies and conflicts endured by a family fighting an unwinnable battle, and their hectic and terrifying escape from the flood waters that finally surge across the threshold of their front door. Surprisingly, it also shows that, sometimes, you can go home again, as Little Henry returns to St. Thomas 60 years later, after Lake Mead recedes, to retrieve a treasure he left behindaand to fulfill a promise he made as a child.
Lords of St. Thomas"masterfully couples a historic event with a classic coming of age story . . . [offering] a glimpse into the past and a glimmer of hope for the future." -- Midwest Book Review
Narrated by a native Nevadan born in 1926, Lords of St. Thomas has a distinctly memoiristic feel, like a piece of vintage Americana. . . . Henry Lord's story becomes a form of witnessing, of ensuring that the ghosts of St. Thomas endure into the 21st century. But can he salvage something concrete from that past, or only use his words to bring it to future generations? The answers lie in his ruined home for readers of this sparsely eloquent, elegiac novel to discover. -- Margot Harrison -- Seven Days