Mysterious monolith found in Utah

Riley Daniels, Staffer

On Nov. 18, state biologists of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources discovered a shiny statue on a helicopter survey of North San Juan Country, Utah. One of the biologists noticed it, telling pilot Bret Hutchings to fly over it. They landed the plane to examine the mysterious monolith. Hutchings noted the monolith was about 10 ft tall, made of metal sheets and formed a triangular prism. He claimed it was probably man made and planted into the ground, denying the chance of extraterrestrial activity. 

Two days later on Nov. 20, the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) posted a picture of the monolith on Instagram. The post gained plenty of attention. They released more videos and pictures, informing the public the monolith was in Red Rock Country, but not giving away the exact location. The site has no public services including restrooms, parking or cellular service. Within two days of the announcement, members of the public reached the site, many of which uploaded photos to social media. The locals feared the publicity could damage Native American sites and artifacts.

Only a few hours after the DPS announcement, reddit user Tim Slane identified the monolith with Google Earth. Slane compared the flight path of the biologist’s helicopter against the sandstone terrain from the videos. He also compared cliff heights, erosion patterns and the level of the flooring to suggest it wasn’t frequently flooded. He also found the monolith was above a watershed, giving away its exact location. Google Earth showed it was placed unlawfully on public land between Aug, 2015 and Oct, 2016, yet nobody had noticed it until recently.

Journalist Nouska du Saar, specializing in open-source intelligence, a method for making decisions by publicly available context, used Maxar satellite images to estimate the monolith first appeared between July 7 and Oct. 21, 2016. A few days later, Dave Spars of the TV show Diesel Brothers said, “They got a concrete saw and they cut it into the red rock there.” Wendy Wischer of University of Utah’s School of Fine Arts stated, “One person alone could not have done it so there is a group of people who have some knowledge of it somewhere. Most artists want some recognition for what they are doing but this seems to include a level of humor and mystery as part of the intention.”

The statue is 9.8 ft tall, consisting of three sides, each with a width of 23 in. The structure was thought to be magnetic, but upon further inspection it isn’t. It is made of ⅛ inch stainless steel or aluminum sheets with a hollow interior. The base is made of either silicone caulk or epoxy, causing a dampened sound when hit, indicating some sort of insulation inside. 

Although the artist of the monolith is unknown, many predictions have been made. People have compared it to the works of John McCracked, a local who has shown his interest in extraterrestrials by leaving a piece similar in public. People have also associated Petecia Le Fawnhawk to the illegal activity, but he has denied the allegations. The Utah Film Commision also said they didn’t have any knowledge about it, claiming it wasn’t used for entertainment purposes. 

On Nov. 27, the monolith disappeared. Photos from tourists showed four unidentified men leaving with the statue in a truck. Multiple people took credit for the removal on social media, receiving hateful comments and death threats for removing an interesting object. The San Juan County Sheriff’s office stated they wouldn’t open an investigation, leaving fans wondering if this was a publicity stunt or some sort of extraterrestrial activity.