Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


By Billy Ortiz

April 1, 2011 (Lakeside) – Back on December 27, ECM reported on my fall during a rockslide on El Capitan Mountain in Lakeside, when a 500-pound boulder dislodged and rolled over my leg. Thankfully I’ve recovered.


What hasn’t been reported until now, however, is the amazing discovery that resulted. I recently returned and found a hidden tunnel revealed behind that boulder, leading deep within the mountain. Inside, I discovered a vast underground lake. Even more astoundingly, after exploring it via kayak, I found the ruins of an entire lost civilization!


As a long-time Lakeside resident and historian, I’ve long heard rumors of ancient settlements in this valley, though separating truth from legend has been daunting. Archaeological testing has now confirmed that my discovery is, indeed, an ancient civilization dating back thousands of years. The find has been ranked by archaeologists from San Diego’s Museum of Man as equal in significance to the ancient cities of the Mayan, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Incan civilizations.

It is thus far unknown what ancient people created this elaborate center of civilization, though scientific testing, further excavation and deciphering the unknown language inscribed on the lost city’s walls may someday yield answers. The architecture includes elements similar to Macchu Picchu as well as fortifications of medieval Euruopean castles.

Some authorities believe the builders were probably early Native Americans, though hieroglyphics are unlike any seen before. Nor is it known which local tribes, if any, may be descendants of these ancient master builders—or whether they came from another region in the Americas, only to vanish mysteriously like the ancient Anasazi.

Geraldo Rivera, on locating for filming a TV report on the opening of the long-sealed ancient city, suggested that the site may be evidence that voyagers from distant continents visited North America far earlier than previously known—predating even the Vikings.

A British tabloid has published a headline proclaiming the work to be the creation of extra-terrestrials ( a claim that has also been made to explain such ancient engineering marvels as Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt).

Scholars have yet to determine what led these ancient inhabitants to abandon their city, much like the ancient Anasazi: a natural disaster, drought, disease, migration elsewhere, or something we cannot fathom?

Governor Jerry Brown toured the newly discovered ancient city and today, revealed that the Legislature has passed emergency legislation creating a Lost City of El Capitan State Park to assure preservation of the historic site.

“The revenues from tourism dollars will help improve our state budget deficit and preserve these cultural wonders,” Governor Brown declared.

Discovery of the Lost City has succeeded in achieving what many residents of Lakeside’s El Monte Valley have long desired: halting construction of Sunrise Powerlink along the face of El Capitan Mountain, a usage deemed incompatible with the new State Park.

“We are grateful to these ancient people for their role in preserving this beautiful valley for perpetuity,” said Laura Cyphert, founder of the East County Community Action Coalition, which represents 79,000 people opposed to the Powerlink Project.

SDG&E , which suffered a previous setback when its original planned Powerlink route through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was rejected on environmental grounds, has announced plans for Plan C: a new coastal route.

“We are confident that the California Public Utilities Commission will approve our new proposal to bring power directly up from Mexico by routing high-voltage power lines along beaches from the border, along San Diego’s Harbor Drive, then up the beaches of OB, PB, La Jolla and Del Mar north to Los Angeles,” an SDG&E spokesperson confirmed, dismissing objections of beachfront property owners as “NIMBY (not in my backyard) complaints with no merit.”

The State Park Service will install a commemorative plaque on the boulder where I took that fateful tumble and was rescued by a Sheriff’s helicopter, as I documented in a previous video adventure.

For those readers with adventurous spirits, I am now taking reservations for“Billy’s Adventure Kayak Tours” into the fabled Lost City of El Capitan.



To read more April Fool’s Day “news” from East County Magazine’s special April 1st, 2011 edition, please visit:


Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.