"Mormon Island" settlement uncovered in Northern California

By ABC 4 News

Published 12/29 2013 06:42PM

Updated 12/29 2013 07:34PM

George Warren from KXTV in Sacramento reported

FOLSOM, CA - The dramatic drop in the water level at Folsom Lake has revealed portions of a Gold Rush-era community flooded when the dam was built in the 1950s.

On Friday, the lake stood at just 365 feet above sea level, about 115 below its maximum elevation.

The dry lake bed has revealed the stone foundations of buildings that were part of the town of Mormon Island, founded shortly after the 1848 discovery of gold in nearby Coloma.

Visitors seem to have largely respected the state park's prohibition against scavenging - artifacts such as square-headed nails are displayed neatly on stones and tree stumps.

"It's a shame the lake is this low, but it's really interesting to see," said Tim Trette of Auburn.

The combination of good weather and the winter break from school has led to a family field trip atmosphere around the ruins.

"We wanted to show the kids because we've been here on boats, but we've never seen it like this," said Danielle Iodence of Cameron Park. "It's a little eerie, to be honest."

Who knows what more Folsom Lake will reveal? In the coming weeks the lake will likely drop to a record low level.

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