A note: The name "Lost City" was given to the pueblo by the press during the 1920's to help sell newspapers and it succeeded. The Lost City became a tourist destination complete with a pageant stage and reenactments of Indian life; the Union Pacific railroad even had a special excursion from Las Vegas to the Lost City for $3.75. A really great source of information and old photos for the Lost City is a book written by Dena Sedar entitled "Images of America, Nevada's Lost City". It can be purchased online at Amazon.Com or in the museum's gift shop.
The Lost City Museum was constructed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to house the artifacts recovered during the excavation of the Lost City ruins. Some of the artifacts are still in the museum and are well worth seeing; the rest of them are... you guessed it, they were squirreled away by the National Park Service never again to be seen. The other part of the museum is located outside and behind the actual museum and it is the reconstructed pueblo. You cannot climb on top of the pueblo, but you can climb inside and if it just happens to be a typical Nevada summer day, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much cooler it is inside.
Information Sheet: The area around the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada has a rich Native American history dating back many thousands of years, with the most prominent movement into the area starting around 300 BC by the Anasazi.
There are five branches of the Anasazi: the Mesa Verde, probably the most familiar to many of us because of their famous ruins in Colorado; and the Chaco Culture, again because of their famous ruins in New Mexico; the other three branches are not as well known to the general public as the two listed above: they are the Rio Grande, Kayenta, and the Virgin River cultures. The Anasazi that lived along the Virgin and Muddy Rivers near Overton, Nevada were part of the Virgin River branch.
The occupation of the Muddy and Virgin Rivers near Overton, Nevada by the Anasazi can be broken down into four time periods or traditions. The oldest in this area was the Basketmaker II tradition, dating from 300 BC to approximately AD 400. The Basketmakers lived in pit houses (mostly below-ground dwellings), were using atlatls for hunting, and as the name implies, made baskets for utilitarian needs.
Next came the Basketmaker III period from AD 400 to AD 800. This was a time of change in the Anasazi world, as the bow was coming into use for hunting and pottery was being introduced into the culture. This was also the time that farming was beginning to take hold.
The next period or tradition was the Pueblo I dating from AD 800 to AD 1000. This was the time of moving from underground pit houses to the pueblos. Pit houses would remain in use, but the new pueblos would become the dominant type of structures. Examples of a pueblo and pit house can be seen at the Lost City museum in Overton, Nevada.
The last time period for the Anasazis in the Overton area is called the Pueblo II, dating from approximately AD 1000 to AD 1150 and it was around AD 1150 that the Lost City was starting to be abandoned by the Anasazi. After the Anasazi left the area, the Southern Paiutes from the west moved into and occupied some of the sites left by the Pueblo II (Anasazi) people.
Description of ruins: Pit house ruins: Are normally circular and below ground with a wood and/or dirt roof and are older than pueblos. The ruins of a pit house will usually present itself as a circle with a depression in the center. The depression is where the roof collapsed in on itself. You will normally not see a rock ring or circle of rocks around the upper edge of the pit house.
Pueblo ruins: Can be square, round or circular, or rectangular, and may or may not be connected with other pueblos. In Nevada they are normally single story unlike their counterparts in the four corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona which can be multiple stories. The ruins will normally present themselves as a square, circular, or rectangular rock patterns or outlines on the ground, and they may or may not be connected to each other.