<span>Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

It has a way of showing things. The precarity of the vital systems that keep societies functioning can be highlighted by retreating waters.

At least three sets of human remains, including a body inside a barrel that could be linked to a mob killing, and a sunken boat dating back to the 19th century, have been found in recent months at the largest lake in the United States.

The crew made progress against the fire.

The lake is a vital source of water for 25 million people and is in dire need of replenishment due to the American west's long and brutal dry spell. The lake was being filled in 1937 and it is now at its lowest level.

Officials expect more grim finds, and have already received calls from visitors about bones that turned out to be prop skeletons.

A formerly sunken boat sits high and dry along the shoreline of Lake Mead in May.
A formerly sunken boat sits high and dry along the shoreline of Lake Mead in May. Photograph: John Locher/AP

Things will be found in the lake. Michael Green is an associate professor of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It has been sad to watch the lake drop and the islands appear.

In May, boaters spotted a barrel. The remains of a man who was shot in the mid-1970s were found inside. The local Mob Museum said that the killing has the signature of a mob hit and that it coincides with the most violent period in Las Vegas's past.

The bones of a bighorn sheep were found by two sisters paddle-boarding on the lake, but they turned out to be human remains.

The lieutenant with the Las Vegas police said in May that there was a good chance that more human remains would be found.

The human remains were partially encased in mud on the beach. The park said that the investigation is still going on.

There are bodies in the water that come from the Colorado River as well as thebathtub ring around the lake.

A second world war-era boat sank this summer. The models of the landing craft used at Normandy were sold to the marina before they sank.

A sunken second world war-era Higgins landing craft that used to be nearly 200ft underwater rests on its side near the Lake Mead Marina on Thursday. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The plane has been in the water for over sixty years. Light is reaching the plane for the first time in decades as the water levels fall.

The lake is not a natural body of water. The Hoover Dam submerged St Thomas, a Mormon settlement, in 1865. According to the Deseret News, one of the town's last residents left when the water reached his front door. The settlement has been visible for the last 10 years due to the declining lake levels.

Green said there could be historical items in the water because the lake covered archaeological digs.

The nearby museum has artifacts from the people who lived in the area a thousand years earlier. Archaeologists worked there until the lake rose around them.

The Colorado River flooded the dam's spillways in 1983, causing the water level to drop more than 170 feet. The Colorado River Basin has been overburdened by over-extraction, extreme heat and decreased snowmelt, and the lake is only 27% of it's capacity.

The Colorado River has been in a dry spell for two decades, meaning that more discoveries will be made.

Green said that there was a lot of stuff that went to the bottom. We don't want to find more water.