Mystery of the metal monolith found in Utah desert partially solved

The mystery behind a 12-foot tall metal monolith found in the middle of the Utah desert might be partially solved — at least its location — but it’s still unclear who installed it and why.

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A team of biologists counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter came across the enigmatic structure recently in what was an undisclosed area of southeastern Utah. Its three panels are made from stainless steel and were riveted together. Officials did not release its remote location in order to keep potential visitors from becoming stranded trying to locate it.

>> Mysterious metal pillar found in Utah desert

However, the coordinates of the mysterious giant metal pillar were determined through some internet sleuthing.

Using flight tracking data, online detectives determined an approximate location near the Canyonlands National Park along the Colorado River, CNET reported. Then, using satellite images they figured out when it first appeared. Using historical Google Earth images, the monolith is not seen in August 2015 but appears in October 2016.

Still, is it a Hollywood prop or an art installation?

The time frame of its appearance coincides with when the science fiction drama “Westworld” was filming in the area, CNET reported. The location has also been the backdrop for a number of other productions, although some are less likely to have left the structure, including westerns from the 1940s to 1960s and the movies “127 Hours” and “Mission: Impossible 2.”

A spokeswoman for the Utah Film commission told The New York Times the monolith was not left behind from a film production.

Representatives for John McCracken, an artist known for his minimalist plank sculptures who died in 2011, initially said the dead artist was responsible, the BBC reported. They later retracted the statement and said it was likely created by another artist as an homage. Petecia Le Fawnhawk, a Utah artist who has installed sculptures in the desert in the past, told Artnet she was not responsible for this installation.

Park officials said it is illegal to install art without approval.

The area is extremely remote and if people were to visit, they would likely become stranded, park officials have warned. But that has not stopped some from already checking out the makeshift landmark. Within hours of its discovery, people in Utah started showing up to take pictures of it, KSN reported.

Dave “Heavy D” Sparks, known from the “Diesel Brothers” television show, shared videos on social media Tuesday of his visit.

“Found it. Tried to get beamed up, must be out of service,” he said on social media.

Found it ✅ Tried to get beamed up, must be out of service 🤷🏼‍♂️ @joerogan

Posted by Heavy D on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Nearby resident Monica Holyoak and a group of friends went to the site Wednesday, St. George News reported.

“There were six others there when we arrived, and we passed four coming out as we were going in,” she said. “Lots of traffic on the road going in as we were coming out. It’s going to be crazy there this weekend.”

The Bureau of Land Management has not indicated if they will remove the marker.