Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

David Wrobel

Second Committee Member

Andrew Kirk

Third Committee Member

David Holland

Fourth Committee Member

Eugene Moehring

Fifth Committee Member

Ronald Smith

Number of Pages



Historians tend to treat Mormon history separately from the larger patterns of western American and U. S. history. The history of St. Thomas, Nevada, the remains of which are within the boundaries of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, show that this segregated treatment is inadequate. St. Thomas was established in 1865 by Mormon missionaries after the Mormon leader Brigham Young sent them to the Moapa Valley in what is now southern Nevada to grow cotton. The town, like a few other Mormon sites in the region, was abandoned by the LDS Church, taken up by other people, and assigned new meanings. This dissertation serves as a general history of the town from its establishment, abandonment, and recovery to a place of regional importance. It also discusses it demise under the waters of Lake Mead and the evolving interpretations of the place in the present. Through its location in a national recreation area and the lens of civic engagement, the National Park Service has interpreted it as a place significant for all Americans, regardless of religion. It highlights those historical themes that show how this little Mormon community was a fully integrated part of the history of the American West.


Ghost towns; History; Mormon cities and towns; Mormons; Nevada – Moapa Valley; Nevada – St. Thomas; Parks; Water; Water security; Water-supply; Agricultural; United States – Lake Mead National Recreation Area


History of Religion | Social History | United States History

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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