The Curious Case of the Utah Monolith

Krystal Orehek, Reporter

On November 18th, a mysterious 12-foot metal structure was spotted in a Utah desert by a helicopter crew. The flight crew was busy counting bighorn sheep in the area when pilot Bret Hutchings says a crew member spotted the odd structure, “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, ‘what?’ And he’s like, ‘There’s this thing back there—we’ve got to go look at it!’”

When inspecting the object, it was decided that it was man-made; however, officials say they are unsure who put it there, how it got there, and why it is there. With no answers to these questions, people have begun to come up with their own explanations.

It’s almost human nature to jump to the conclusion of aliens, as many people pointed out its similarity to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie, aliens send monoliths to Earth in order to communicate with humans, but the Utah Bureau of Land Management made sure to clarify that, “using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorization is illegal, no matter what planet you are from.”

Utah Department of Public Safety

Another suspicion is that the three-sided metallic structure was left from a past filming crew. Multiple shows and movies have filmed in the desert, but the Utah Film Commission has reported to the New York Times that, “To our knowledge, the monolith that was found in Utah this week is not from a film production.”

One of the most realistic theories is that it was an homage to the late American artist John McCraken. According to the gallery that represents his work, “his signature pieces were monochromatic boards that leaned against walls,” drawing a similarity to what was found in the desert. It is very possible that the monolith is simply an art installation, but no artist has yet to claim the work as theirs.

The fun lasted until November 27th, when it was found that the structure had disappeared. The Utah Bureau of Land Management wrote in a Facebook post that it had been removed by an “unknown property.” Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a franchise that collects weird and unbelievable objects, even offered a prize of $10,000 to anyone who came out as the owner or had any tips as to the location of the monolith.

Men can be seen removing the monolith. (Ross Bernards)

A few days later on November 30th photographer Ross Bernards wrote on Facebook and included pictures of a group of 4 men removing the monolith. YouTuber Sylvan Christensen and BASE jumper Andy Lewis would then come forward and admit to taking it down because, “There are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, freshwater sources, and human impacts upon them.”

So, as of now, no one knows where this mysterious chunk of metal came from and why it was placed. And if anyone was curious, “The sheep are doing well,” according to a spokesman for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “It’s a robust population.”