Lizard people, catacombs under L.A. bring life to 1933 story

catacombs Los Angeles

A map of catacombs under Los Angeles as told by George Warren Shufelt in 1933. (YouTube)

MYSTERY WIRE — It’s a legend that has morphed with time, spanning ages from the meteor that created the Winslow, Arizona, crater to VHS technology of the 1980s. But the primary subject of the legend sits squarely in 1930s America.

That’s when George Warren Shufelt appeared with what he proclaimed was a “radio X-ray machine” that would eventually become central to his plan to lure investors in a treasure hunt under Los Angeles.

Mainstream media — the Los Angeles Times, followed by The Associated Press — told Shufelt’s story, and the investors followed.

Shufelt and a man described as a Native American of the Hopi tribe — Chief Green Leaf — brought together the parts of the story that form the core of the legend. From Shufelt, the discovery of catacombs beneath Los Angeles and stories of plentiful gold caches. From the Chief, the account of lizard people and the story of their descent to underground shelter from meteor showers.

These days, the legend resurfaces for retelling, as well as on websites determined to expose myths.

L.A. Magazine does the service of keeping the story alive in a 2014 retelling:

THE PRO: The underground catacombs of L.A.’s lizard people

And Inverse takes a crack at debunking the story in this 2018 account. Some of the debunking focuses on details that were added as the legend grew, including the VHS angle that was never part of the 1933 story.

THE CON: HD video killed the bizarre ‘lizard people’ conspiracy theory

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