G. Warren Shufelt

In the summer and fall of 1933, a Los Angeles mining engineer named G.Warren Shufelt was surveying the L.A. area for deposits of oil, gold and other valuable materials, using a new device which he had invented. Shufelt had designed and built a radio-directed apparatus which he claimed was able to locate gold and other precious resources at great depths. He believed that the radio device worked on a newly discovered principle involving electrical similarities of matter which had the same chemical, physical and vibrational character. His device appeared to consist of a large pendulum suspended in a cylindrical glass case which was housed in a black box with compasses on it.

The pendulum would trace a line directly from a piece of ore broken from a vein to the vein it was originally taken from. Hair taken from a test subject would lead investigators to the person who had donated the hair sample. It was said to have worked even at a distance of many miles.

Although he would not tell exactly what was in the box, Shufelt believed that by tuning into the individual frequency of a particular material, he could locate similar matter. He believed that the emanations and gravitational factors of matter influenced the pendulum and that, in principle, no two separate things were exactly alike.

Shufelt was extremely puzzled when one day, while taking readings near downtown Los Angeles, his instruments showed him what seemed to be a pattern of tunnels which led from what is now the Public Library in the heart of L.A. to the top of Mount Washington and the Southwest Museum to the north in Pasadena. He proceeded to draw a map and had it copyrighted.

What he discovered appeared to be a well planned underground labyrinth with large rooms located at various points, and deposits of apparently man made gold in the chambers and passage ways. Some of the tunnels ran west for 20 miles under the Santa Monica Bay, which he believed were only used for ventilation.

Unfortunately, Shufelt had no idea that they were connected to the older ruins of an even greater city which was covered by the Pacific Ocean thousands of years ago during a tremendous earth-quake and subsequent flood.

The subterranean complex he had discovered was used for emergencies and was only designed to accommodate 5,000 people or less. Food supplies of imperishable herbs were stored in sufficient quantities which would enable the survivors to live underground until it was safe to come back to the surface. Valuable personal belongings and utensils were also brought into the complex along with historical records and gold treasures.

During his research, he met a Hopi Indian named Chief Little Green Leaf, who told him about the legend of an ancient race of “Lizard People”. The legends said that about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, an enormous meteor shower fell on the western coast covering an area hundreds of miles wide.

Winslow crater in northern Arizona is only one of the pieces that fell from the sky at that time. Thousands of people were killed, their crops wiped out, dwellings destroyed, and the forests set on fire. The surviving members of the medicine lodge, which had remained on the west coast, met to make plans for constructing safe areas. The sentinels of the sky gave their warning that it was time to enter the shelters and seal the shafts behind them-selves. They were forced to go underground to save them selves from a gigantic meteor shower which devastated most of the west coast of the US . The “Lizard People” of Los Angeles survived the meteor shower, but were killed by natural gas leaking into their bunkers.

Shufelt believed that they had built 13 such underground facilities in different areas for such a purpose. One was located in the eastern section of Arizona in a small town called Springerville and was only discovered recently. Another was located under a hill which was surrounded by a curving ridge of mountains like the middle of a horse’s hoof. This is exactly the type of terrain seen in downtown L.A. in the area that is now the Board of Education, which is built over the ruins of the old Willis Estate on top of Fort Moore hill.

Shufelt and his partner Chief Little Green Leaf were both convinced that the ancient legends and the readings from Shufelt’s mystery machine were true. They decided to obtain a permit to sink a shaft down into the ruins of the subterranean city. They located a vacant lot at 518 North Hill Street, directly above one of the largest rooms. On 21st February 1933, the County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Rex McCreary, Warren Shufelt and Ray Martin to search for buried treasure there. The permittees were to bear all expenses, to leave the property in its original condition, and to share 50% of all discoveries and treasure with the city of L.A.


The county originally only allowed them to dig up to depths of 50 feet for fear of cave-ins. On 27th March 1933 they requested additional time and depths on their permit, believing that the labyrinth of tunnels was at least 1,900 feet in length, with rooms containing 9,000 square feet which contained valuable gold treasure in at least 16 places. On 10th April 1933 the contract was renewed. By the end of November in 1933, the main shaft was at a depth of 200 feet. Shufelt was determined to drill to a depth of 1,000 feet if necessary. On 29th January 1934, the first stories regarding the leg-end of the “Lost Land of the Lizard People” made the L.A. newspapers. By this time, one of the five shafts was already 250 feet deep.

According to the legend and the radio surveys, the underground city was laid out in the shape of a lizard, with its tail under the Main Library at Fifth and Hope, and the body extending Northeast, with the head being at Lookout and Marda near North Broadway. The key room to the city was located under Second and South Broadway. The leg-ends state that the key room is the directory to the rest of the city, and to the historical gold record tablets. These gold tablets were slabs of gold, 4 feet long and 14 inches wide. The tablets were believed to contain the records of the origins of the human race, and the history of modern man in the Americas, including details regarding the history of the mysterious Mayan people.

Shufelt’s radio-wave machine mapped the rooms and tunnels as subsurface voids, with the gold slabs as dark areas, showing perfect geometric angles.

The rooms, seven of which occurred within an area of six square city blocks, varied in size from 23′ x 23′ to 34′ x 42′. The room below the first shaft was 31′ x 42′, and the key room was the smallest. Water had seeped into some of the tunnels, and several of the rooms including the largest were flooded. Shufelt was prepared to use divers to explore the submerged areas when they finally broke into the subterranean city. Chief Little Green Leaf claimed that the “Lizard People” had been able to predict earthquakes and that he had also been able to do so. He had accurately predicted the destruction of the Long Beach quake on 10th March 1933, a month in advance.

He believed that it was easy for anyone to tell 96 hours in advance when an earthquake was coming, because the needle on a compass would become demagnetized and refuse to point north.

By the beginning of February 1934, the first shaft had reached a depth greater than 250 feet and was still being dug, despite difficulty caused by the water encountered in its path. Several newspaper articles featured updates on the project.

Shortly after all the media attention was focused on this search for the lost city under L.A., the project was suddenly stopped and abandoned. On 5th March 1934, the shafts had been filled in and the contract with the city was canceled. Neither gold nor any other treasure was ever turned over to the County of Los Angeles.

Mr Arche Dunning of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce stated in December of 1947 that, “It is quite possible, of course, that the supposed labyrinth really exists. But in view of the fact that the overlaying area is the immediate Civic Center area where an important building program is to be carried out, including federal, state, county and city building, there is little probability of any further excavations.”

This is really not a true statement because it is necessary to excavate many hundreds of feet into the ground before a high-rise building can be constructed. Also, one should consider that sewage systems are all underground. And let’s not forget the new Metro Rail System, which rises up from many feet below the Civic Center before it speeds commuters on their way.

Long ago even the Chinese dug tunnels around the area which is now the train yard. These red brick subsurface tunnels were used for their safe passage, from one end of Old Chinatown to the other and are now an historic landmark found preserved at Alvera Street.

It is quite possible that there is another city below the L.A. Civic Center which only a small
number of people have access to. The question is, who?

(Source: Unicus magazine 2/92.1142 Manhattan Avenue, Suite 43, Manhattan Beach, CA
90266. USA)

In 1933 G. Warren Shufelt, an L.A. mining engineer, claimed to have found it. Today, it is said, some malevolent Freemasonic rituals are held in this tunnel complex. There has been a massive cover up by the authorities of the existence of these subterranean races and where they live. In 1909 a subterranean city which was built with the precision of the the Great Pyramid was found by G. E. Kinkaid near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It was big enough to accommodate 50,000 people and mummified bodies found were of oriental or possibly Egyptian origin, according to the expedition leader Professor S. A. Jordan.

Geophysical mining engineer G. Warren Shufelt had been using “radio x-ray” and had discovered subterranean labyrinths beneath the city of Los Angeles, including pockets of pure gold, and taken x-ray pictures of many of the chambers. Somehow Shufelt met with a man named L. Macklin, said to go by the Hopi Indian name of Little Chief Greenleaf. Macklin told Shufelt of a Hopi legend of Lizard People, an advanced race, who built the city beneath Los Angeles to escape surface catastrophes some 5000 years ago. Their history was kept on gold tablets. It sounded like Shufelt had struck paydirt — almost. He still had to dig it up. Shufelt’s crew dug a shaft 250 feet deep, well below the water table, which of course promptly filled with water, and that’s where the story came to an end.

So I began looking into the various elements from the LA Times story. First on the list was Shufelt’s “radio x-ray” device. Times reporter Jean Bosquet described it:

Shufelt’s radio device consists chiefly of a cylindrical glass case inside which a plummet attached to a copper wire held by the engineer sways continually, pointing, he asserts, toward minerals or tunnels below the surface of the ground, and then revolves when over the mineral or swings in prolongation of the tunnel when above the excavation.

So, it turns out, Shufelt’s device has little to do with either radio or x-rays and more to do with a common dowsing pendulum. This was all he had to guide his elaborate drawing of the catacomb layout, which you can see online at Skeptoid.com, along with a picture of Shufelt using his dowsing pendulum.

Shufelt stated he has taken “x-ray pictures” of thirty seven such tablets, three of which have their southwest corners cut off. “My radio x-ray pictures of tunnels and rooms, which are subsurface voids, and of gold pictures with perfect corners, sides and ends, are scientific proof of their existence,” Shufelt said.

Shufelt’s dowsing results notwithstanding, parts of the story seem unlikely. Gold, and metallurgy in general, was unknown among the Hopi until the mid 1700’s. So was chemistry, but Macklin said that the Lizard People “perfected a chemical solution by which they bored underground without removing earth and rock.”

I did make a pretty thorough effort to track down any such Hopi legend, but came up empty handed, not counting numerous modern references to Mt. Shasta and the Los Angeles catacomb story. I did find a “Lizard clan” referenced in several Hopi stories, but always among other clans (the Spider clan, the Bear clan), and never any references to underground cities, golden tablets, or any other elements from Shufelt’s story. Obviously, my failure to find any evidence of such a legend doesn’t prove anything: Native American legends were traditionally passed by word of mouth and never were written down, the only exceptions being those that made it into modern storybook collections. I was also unable to find a man named either L. Macklin or Little Chief Greenleaf in the public birth and death certificate databases for the Hopi Reservation in the Navajo Nation Court, but again, all this proves is that I didn’t find it.

If Shufelt’s dowsing misadventures truly were the genesis of modern Reptoid legends, there is an ironic aspect. Macklin never said that there was anything reptilian about the Lizard clan, they were simply one subculture of the Hopi, though just as human as anyone else. According to the story Macklin told Shufelt:

The Lizard People, the legend has it, regarded the lizard as the symbol of long life. Their city is laid out like a lizard, according to the legend, its tail to the southwest … its head to the northeast.

Most likely, this tall tale from the early days of Los Angeles was little more than an effort by Shufelt to interest investors in his treasure hunt, in which he no doubt believed wholeheartedly. As for Macklin? Who knows, Shufelt could have made him up, or he could have been a real guy, possibly even a real Hopi, and may have even told a genuine — if undocumented — Hopi legend. What Shufelt didn’t know was that his little gem in the Los Angeles Times was the kickoff for a whole generation of one of our most bizarre (and entertaining) urban legends.


Los Angeles has always been known for its diversity. But was it the home of a lost  underground civilization? This was a question many Los Angelinos in 1934 asked themselves after an engineer and amateur miner revealed to the Los Angeles Times that he found a lost underground city of the fabled Lizard People.

G. Warren Shufelt, a geophysicist and mining engineer, told the Times that he had discovered a vast system of tunnels that stretched from central public library on 5th Street all the way to where present-day Dodger Stadium is located. He said he found this evidence with a self-modified “radio X-ray device” he claimed could without uncertainty detect “the presence of minerals and tunnels below the surface of the ground.”

A picture from the story shows him standing over this device; it was a pendulum suspended within a glass cylinder within a black case. Also, included with it were several compasses on the outside and a copper wire in which the operator can “see through the earth.” In many respects, the device appeared to be an over modified dowsing machine.

He told the Times that he had evidence that gold tablets existed in those tunnels. He claimed that he had taken “X-ray pictures” of thirty-seven tablets.

“My radio x-ray pictures of the tunnels and rooms,” he was quoted as saying, “Which are subsurface voids, and of gold pictures with perfect corners, sides and ends, are scientific proof of their existence.”

After his discovery of these “tunnel system,” Shufelt consulted Little Chief Greenleaf of the medicine lodge of the Hopi Nation in Arizona. There, he learned more about the origins of the tunnels. Chief Greenleaf (also known as L. Macklin) told him about the legend of the lizard people and how they had built several underground cities in Arizona, California, Mexico, and Central America.

He learned that the Lizard People – not named because they resembled lizards – had built their cities about 5000 years ago and had done so to escape a “great catastrophe.” According the original Times article, the great catastrophe was “in the form of a huge tongue of fire, which ‘came out of the Southwest, destroying all in its path…the path being several hundred miles wide.’” In other words, they built their city underground to avoid future catastrophe.

There were other details he learned from Chief Greenleaf:

The city was possibly one of five cities on the Pacific Coast; it was dug out by chemicals rather than conventional digging tools; the tides passed in and out daily in the lower tunnel and forced air into the upper tunnels providing ventilation; the hills above this underground city housed 1000 families; and the catacombs supplied imperishable food and herbs to help the Lizard people to live for a long time underground.

He also learned that the Lizard people, who regarded the lizard as a symbol of long life, laid their city out like a lizard( it should be noted that some accounts state the lizard people were reptoids (half-man, half-lizards) while other accounts, including the newspaper article, seem to indicate that the lizard part was merely a name given to this advanced civilization because to them the symbol of the lizard was extremely important in their rituals).

Most importantly, he learned – one that proved crucial for Shufelt – that the catacombs may have contained gold tablets. After his initial discovery, and his conversation with the Hopi chief, Shufelt returned to Los Angeles and started drilling.

He chose Fort Moore Hill near downtown.  In part, Greenleaf had advised him to look for the city near a series of hills. And, according to later reports, Greenleaf had supplied the map (this is still up for debate).

Fort Moore Hill has had a colorful history. In addition to being the site of an abandoned military fort that dated back to the days of the Mexican-American War, it was also the place where several failed gold mines were established and later abandoned.

With the “evidence” he had, Shufelt managed to convince the city to start digging at the hill off of North Hill Street. There, he and his assistants drilled down 250 feet, hoping to find the tunnels.

So what did Shufelt find? He found mud and water. He had drilled past the water table, thus flooding any caverns (if they existed). From there, the story of Shufelt and his attempt to find the city of the Lizard people ended.

Despite his claims that his device had revealed, it eventually let him down.  Also the march of time would let him down. His chosen area to drill was eventually leveled to make way for the Hollywood Freeway. Finally, much of the city, especially downtown became more developed, hiding any indication or clues to support Shufelt’s claim.

Still, the legend lives on as an urban

legend. Even the maps he drew and the device that he claimed worked have become stuff of legend. The search for the lizard people is still continued for a few true believers. One such area of concentration has been Mt. Shasta in Northern California.

As for the city of Los Angeles: since that fateful day in January 1934, the city became the 2nd largest city in the United States as well as one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Enclaves of Mexican, Central American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Jewish and Armenian neighborhoods (to name a few) have sprouted in and around the City of Angels. As a result, the city and its suburbs have become one of the most diversified cities in the country.  And, to this day, there’s no evidence that the people known as the Lizard People were ever part of it.


Leave a Reply