The Lizard People of Los Angeles

Lizard People became popular with science fiction fans because they are humanoids with lizard heads. The conspiracy theorists claim that the Lizard people are shape-shifting reptilian aliens that control the world like in the movie, They Live.

In the 1930s, one man set out to find the Lizard People of Los Angeles. That man was George Warren Shufelt, a mining engineer, and geologist. He had invented the machine that he believed could detect underground tunnels. Shufelt was before his time seeing that Ground Penetrating Radar would not exist for another 60 years.

Shufelt had heard an old Hopi Indian legend that said there were hundreds of tunnels with chambers large enough for thousands of Lizard families. He believed The Lizard People might hold the key to the origin of humanity. Shufelt thought there was a race of brilliant human lizard beings forced underground to escape wildfires. It was an ancient civilization more than five thousand years old.

Shufelt had an old map made of sheepskin that a fellow treasure hunter had given him. He believed that the tunnel system was shaped like a lizard and connected from the downtown Central library to Elysian Park. There were a dozen caverns stored with gold that he had discovered by using his radio x-ray machine.

Shufelt dug near Fort Moore above Sunset Boulevard. The Military built the fort in 1846 during the Mexican-American war. It was demolished to make way for the 101 Hollywood Freeway. All that is left now is a giant stone mural occupied by homeless people.

Two Los Angeles newspapers covered The Lizard Quest story daily. The city waited for the gold as Shufelt dug a 28-foot shaft. Shufelt had made a deal with the city to split the profits 50–50. The Lizard People had no rights in the 1930s. It was perfectly legal to rob them of their gold and precious jewels. People were scared. They didn’t like the idea of the Lizard People living under their homes.

Shufelt started to run into trouble after he hit the waterline. He hit some large boulders and mud as he dug down to 250 feet. He found nothing. No gold. No tunnels. No catacombs of lizard people.

The seasons changed. The excavation stopped in the Springtime. The money ran out, and the newspapers stopped covering the story.

Shufelt drifted around Los Angeles for a few decades, trying to raise more funds. He never found fame and fortune in Los Angeles.

There is nothing left of his mining operation — no marker or plaque detailing his Lizard Quest. No one noticed when Warren Shufelt died in 1957 in North Hollywood, California.

Los Angeles has always been a place where dreamers come to strike it rich. The city seems to embrace the weird. If anything, Warren Shufelt brought a little entertainment to the citizens of Los Angeles during the Depression.

Author of Vivien’s Rain and Straight Fish. Epilepsy Advocate. Comedian.