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 him―and his family―dearly.
Lords of St. Thomas details 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 behind―and to fulfill a promise he made as a child.
Intrigued as I was by the premise of this tale, a look at an obscure part of the country, an obscure bit of our history, I was not prepared for the drama and emotion that like the making of Lake Mead, flood the pages. It is a coming of age story in a town that is destined to disappear due to the building of The Hoover Dam. Though it is the mid-1930’s, I could still resonate with young Henry, especially the honing of baseball skills by throwing a ball against a wall. The author has crafted a tale that while unique in its setting, is not so unique as to the human condition – tense family situations, the fear of the unknown future, the struggle to live up to expectations – all of that and more make this an enjoyable read. I have driven the southern shore of Lake Mead, and the stark barren, desert landscape is vividly described by the author, as is the out of place look the lake has in this drought ridden, sun baked land. As the blurb states, Henry returns 60 years later as the lake has receded and uncovered parts of St. Thomas. Without spoiling it for future readers, I can say that the author has provided the reader with an exciting, dramatic conclusion to this wonderful tale. 5 stars