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Utah Monalith — A Modern Day Who Dunnit

by Sandi Parsons 2 months ago in Mystery

And an echo of copycats

Image source: Patrickamackie2 on Wikimedia Commons

The rivets holding the triangular prism together prove that alien lifeforms didn't construct the Utah Monolith in the middle of the desert. The monolith was clearly man-made. But the appearance of the monolith and its purpose remain unclear. 

With a height of 3 meters (9.8 ft) tall, the effort required to construct the metal monolith, transport it to the site, and embed the base into the rock, needed careful and precise planning. It wasn't done on a whim.

For years the monolith sat alone in the desert until November 2020. During a helicopter survey, staff from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spied something odd. They landed to take a closer look. 

There were no clues to indicate who might have placed the monolith—not surprising as Google Earth Images show the monolith has been in situ since at least 2016. Ample time for the weather to destroy tracks and evidence. 

The discovery of the monolith was big news. Officials chose not to reveal the exact location, concerned that people would get lost in the harsh terrain and require rescuing. Nonetheless, the people came, driven by a desire to sight the triangular prism for themselves. 

Days later, as hikers continued their pilgrimage to see the monolith in person, and the Bureau of Land Managemen debated if they should remove the illegal structure, the monolith vanished. 

Although the monolith itself disappeared in the night, it left behind a triangular base embedded into the rock —proof that a monolith had stood there for four years. A mark left on the landscape, like a graffiti artist. 

Here once stood the monolith.

Was it art? A prank? Or a statement? 

Fans were quick to point out the resemblance to the black monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many believed the monolith was an artistic expression — but no one came forward to claim responsibility. 

Whatever the original intent of the monolith may have been, the removal was a statement. Slackline performer Andy L. Lewis was one of four men who removed the monolith. Lewis initially declined to comment, leaving the video proof to speak for his intentions. Later co-removalist Sylvan Christensen explained in a statement to the New York Times and on social media:

"We removed the Utah Monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them. The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here - we are losing our public lands - things like this don't help."— Sylvan Christensen.

The righteous foursome claimed the land wasn't prepared for the high traffic volume, and like every place that humans touch, they left a stream of rubbish in their wake. But members of the public were quick to comment on the social media posts calling out the action as an attention stunt that had nothing to do with environmental concern. Several commenters pointed out that Lewis himself blighted the landscape by drilling holes in cliff faces for metal grappling and other safety equipment as a slackline performer. While another group expressed disappointment that the group had taken it upon themselves to remove an artwork that provided joy amongst the bleakness of COVID. Few applauded the foursome's effort. 

An echo of copycats was quick to cash in

"Utah Monolith" on Google Earth now points towards a tourist attraction in Oren, Utah.

Google Earth Screenshot, October 2021

But this Utah "tourist" attraction isn't the only place attempting to cash in on the monolith craze. Replica monoliths started popping up and disappearing all around the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

Like the original monolith, some "disappear" as mysteriously as they arrive. Some are well made, while others are poor imitations. Despite this, people are drawn to them. Dubbed the Monolith craze of 2020, the movement grew so large it continued well into 2021. If you want to go on a monolith hunt, you can. Monolith Trackers is devoted to tracking monoliths worldwide.

Although some people claim responsibility for erecting various monoliths, the vast majority go unclaimed. A modern-day mystery to be enjoyed, without speculation — because if we look too closely, we may well spoil the mystic. 

Origins of the original monolith

There is some speculation that it is the work of John McCracken. The David Zwirner gallery, representing McCraken's estate, believes it's his work, as does his son, Patrick McCraken. 

"We were standing outside looking at the stars and he said something to the effect of that he would like to leave his artwork in remote places to be discovered later." — Patrick McCraken.

Fellow artists Ed Ruscha and James Hayward disagree. While the Utah Monolith resembles McCraken's sculptures, the artist who created it used machines and industrial fabrication— whereas McCraken sculptured solely by hand—leaving the jury undecided on a verdict.

If the Utah Monolith was the work of John McCraken, it's a secret he took to the grave. If it's another artist, their lips are firmly sealed. 

Regardless of who created the monolith, it provided a talking point and intrigue to the end of 2020, in stark contrast to the bleakness of the pandemic.


Sandi Parsons

Sandi Parsons lives and breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller. Subscribe to my newsletter & receive my free ebook The Last Walk →

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